Game 3 was crucial for the Trail Blazers getting themselves into their series against the Warriors. They weren’t up to the task and now they’re facing elimination.
The Trail Blazers were hoping homecourt advantage would be the difference to getting them through some of the late-game struggles that cost them Games 1 and 2 against the Warriors. They made a chance to the starting lineup and ran out to a big lead but ultimately ended up in the same place.
Portland managed just 33 points in the second half, including a 13-point third quarter that saw the Warriors storm out of the locker room and retake the lead. The Trail Blazers couldn’t do enough to regain contact with Golden State and now they’ll be facing elimination on Monday in Game 4.
The Meyers Leonard move…worked? Yes, the Trail Blazers were outscored by 17 in the 31 minutes Leonard was on the floor but plenty of that overlapped with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum who were a combined 12-of-38 from the field with 6 turnovers. Leonard’s late addition into the starting lineup for Enes Kanter was mostly met with jokes on Twitter, but he showed up, lifting his teammates with energy and effort. He did his job setting screens, moved the ball, did an admirable job in pick-and-roll defense and stretched the floor, scoring 16 points on 6-of-12 from the field. It’s a small victory considering the final outcome but it showed that Terry Stotts at least pulled the right lever here.
Damian Lillard looks completely lost. He was so under control in that opening round series against the Thunder but he’s been a deer in the headlights in this series. Early in the first quarter he twice drove his way into the teeth of the defense and found himself in the air in front of two defenders and with no one obvious to pass to. It was just indicative how much his offensive compass has been sent spinning wildly by the Warriors defense. It’s not just that he’s missing shots, he’s misreading the offensive opportunities in front of him. Including Game 3, Lillard is now shooting 5-of-20 inside the arc in this series with 14 turnovers. He has to be better but it’s not just pulling up from the logo, it’s everything that happens between there and the basket.
Draymond Green was the best player on the floor. Among the unexpected silver linings of Kevin Durant being out, it’s forced more pick-and-roll involving Green and given him more opportunities to work with the ball in his hands, picking the defense apart. The extra offensive responsibility seems to pull maximum energy out of him, at both ends of the floor, and this was among Green’s best postseason performances ever. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals and a block, making every play the Warriors needed.