Well, it wasn't the start the Portland Trail Blazers had hoped for in the Bay. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the defending champion, Golden State Warriors, had their way with Portland in just about every way possible.
Now heading into Game 2, Portland looks to make key adjustments, including finding a way to defend the Warriors' deadly three-point shooter, Steph Curry, who had nine threes in Game 1, seven of which were uncontested.
Let's take a look at What They're Saying about the Blazers and Warriors heading into the two teams' second meeting in the Western Conference Finals.
Haley O'Shaughnessy of The Ringer says Blazers coach Terry Stotts needs to change an entire element of his defense mid-playoffs to have a chance against the Warriors.
"To have a chance against the Warriors, the Blazers need to employ traps and get more men to be on their ball handlers, not fewer. Stotts should understand that his preferred pick-and-roll defense doesn't work against the Warriors. Lillard does; other Blazers do."
the good, the bad, and the drop of portland's defense (.....there's not much good) https://t.co/Q8oHZeEIAF
— Haley O'Shaughnessy (@HaleyOSomething) May 16, 2019
Dieter Kurtenbach of The Mercury News also stressed the importance of defense in the Blazers- Warriors series. He said the Blazers are not as scrappy as the Clippers, as talented as the Bucks and Raptors, or as physical as the Rockets, to defend the Warriors.
"Maybe the Blazers change their defensive scheme. Maybe they don't. But no matter if they start trapping, switching, or go with a small ball lineup to get Kanter and Collins off the court, the truth is that they are not a good enough defensive team to really stop the Warriors from doing what they want to do on that end of the court."
The Blazers defense allowed Stephen Curry - the greatest shooter of all time - to have 11 open shots (no defender within four feet). Arguably the second-greatest shooter to ever do it, Klay Thompson, also had 11. https://t.co/gtnF49DTne
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) May 16, 2019
Martin Rogers of USA Today says its time for the Trail Blazers to get nasty if they want to make it a series.
"If Portland can find a way to energize themselves and make things tougher for Golden State then maybe this becomes a series. If not, it could turn into a stroll. The Warriors, thankful to be past the ultra-aggressive Rockets, are handling Kevin Durant's absence just fine and walking with smiles on their faces once more. Portland needs to find a way to remove those grins. Getting nastier, more intense and more defensively-aggressive is the best way to do it."
Among the many things the Blazers needs to change from Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is physicality. https://t.co/Rgpg2nrtjz
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) May 16, 2019
Before Game 1, a panel of ESPN writers gave their thoughts on what it would take for Portland to upset the Warriors. Royce Young said the Blazers would have to make the most of their matchup advantages to beat Golden State.
"The Warriors will likely deploy a trapping and blitzing approach to Lillard, so it will be on McCollum to cook against Thompson. And similar to the series against Denver, the Blazers have to find ways to make the most of their matchup advantages -- Hood against smaller defenders, Kanter on the offensive glass, Collins' physicality. But at the core, it will be about Lillard and McCollum: Can they outplay Curry and Thompson?"
— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) May 14, 2019
Tip off for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals is set for 6:00 p.m. on Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.