3 key reactions as Warriors cool down Damian Lillard in comeback romp over Blazers

The Golden State Warriors overcame a 23-point first half deficit to cool off Damian Lillard and beat the Portland Trail Blazers 123-105 on Tuesday night at Chase Center. Let’s dive into three key reactions—with related film and analysis, as always—from the short-handed defending champs’ third straight victory.

Warriors (eventually) slow down Damian Lillard

No player in the league was close to as hot Lillard entering Tuesday’s action, and the Warriors reacted appropriately. Unfortunately, the Oakland native was more than ready to be the singular focus of Golden State’s defense, exploiting that strategy from the opening tip to both get his teammates involved and produce his own offensive pretty much at will—in the first half, at least.

Lillard created back-to-back wide open corner triples for Matisse Thybulle early, content to play 4-on-3 as the Warriors sent two to the ball, then easily winning at the point of attack before the defense converged on him.

Golden State tried a box-and-one on Lillard, too, quickly giving up on it early after a couple ugly possessions on the back-line.

Running an extra defender at Lillard once he was picked up past halfcourt didn’t work, either.

Lillard simply had the Dubs in an absolute panic no matter what defense they threw at him. Sometimes that meant starting possessions away from the ball, using his mere threat to glean extra space for teammates as multiple defenders stuck with him.

Donte DiVincenzo and Klay Thompson are so scared to give Lillard daylight that they allow Jerami Grant a free runway to the rim.

A few minutes later, Draymond Green decides to give Lillard some extra contact as he comes off a rote screen from Grant on the baseline. The result? Another wide open corner three courtesy of Lillard’s gravity.

Lillard scored 19 points and dished out five assists before intermission, garnering a game-high +21 plus-minus as Portland took a 17-point lead into the locker room.

Defense isn’t the sole factor that sparked the Warriors’ second-half comeback. A concerted effort to get to the paint and target the Blazers’ weakest defenders, Lillard included, loomed large, too. But there’s no denying this game turned on Golden State going back to the box-and-one in the third quarter, forcing anyone on a young Portland team other than Lillard to make a play.

Look how confused and uncomfortable the Blazers are against the box-and-one on these multi-possession sequences from the early portion of the third quarter.

Their sound box-and-one didn’t just beg the likes Nassir Little, Trendon Watford and Keon Johnson to beat the Warriors. It went a long way toward slowing down Lillard, too, finally getting him out of the all-time groove he’s been in for the last six weeks.

Golden State played box-and-one nearly every possession Lillard was on the floor after halftime. Hounded by DiVincenzo and Kuminga while being surrounded a depleted supporting cast, Lillard scored just six points and dished two assists in the last two quarters, held to 3-of-9 from the field.

Tuesday’s game was a tale of two halves for the Warriors. Stellar as they were offensively in the second half, it’s the Dubs’ renewed and refined commitment to the box-and-one that made the biggest difference, holding Lillard down while juicing their effectiveness on the other end.

Klay Thompson closes Dubs’ dominant third quarter

Give Jordan Poole a lot of credit for Golden State’s game-changing third quarter run.

He came alive offensively right as Portland fell apart against the box-and-one, driving past Lillard for a layup then hitting a three off a sideline-out-of-bounds play to sustain the home team’s momentum. Maybe more importantly, Poole drew a pair of fouls on Lillard while targeting him in ball-screen action, leaving the Blazers’ franchise player timid defensively from that point forward.

Poole’s numbers—29 points, five rebounds and six assists—speak for themselves, rough early shooting start and defensive issues included. But Thompson is the one who sustained and finished Golden State’s third quarter onslaught, absolutely dominating offensively with and without the ball to give the Dubs their first and extend it further entering the final stanza.

Klay’s personal run started when he abused 19-year-old Shaedon Sharpe for a layup on the right block. He and the Warriors picked on the inexperienced teenager again on their next trip, Thompson looping off a screen from Anthony Lamb as Sharpe tried to shoot the gap.

Sensing Sharpe and the Blazers selling out to cool down Thompson, Kuminga then used his teammate’s shooting threat as means for an uncontested layup. Portland wasn’t ready the following trip down, either, Sharpe late to get to Thompson’s body as Nassir Little called for a switch on Kuminga’s pin.

Golden State clearly saw blood in the water with Sharpe, going right back to the chum on the last two possessions of the third quarter.

Check out how frantically the rookie tries to stick with Draymond as he veers back toward Thompson after subtly faking a ball screen. Johnson calls for a late switch seeing Sharpe fall behind the play, but by then it’s too late. Finally slotting Sharpe away from the primary action also didn’t do the Blazers any favors. He’s even late on weak-side help as Thompson drives baseline after a switch, finding Draymond alone at the rim for a shooting foul.

Thompson never found the touch he did in back-to-back wins over the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves in recent days, needing 21 shots to score 23 points and shooting a ho-hum 3-of-7 on triples.

Just like Lillard completely controlled the action throughout a superlative first half, though, Thompson did exactly the same to cap the Warriors’ 39-17 third quarter in an otherwise average performance.

Golden State owns the paint

The Warriors finished this game with 66 paint points, the second-most they’ve scored from that hallowed ground in any game this season.

Making that gaudy total all the more impressive is that they scored a whopping 44 of those points in the second half, no doubt encouraged by the coaching staff to take advantage of the Blazers’ sorely lacking rim-protection. No team in the league allows more shots at the rim than Portland, a rate that spikes even higher without the injured Jusuf Nurkic, per Cleaning the Glass.

With the long ball failing everyone but DiVincenzo, who shot 5-of-7 from deep in another awesome outing, the ultra-aggressive Warriors finished with an unbelievable 16 dunks and layups in the second half alone. Just as eye-popping? Golden State shot 23-of-25 from the paint following intermission, Kuminga and Looney especially making hay around the basket.

The Warriors didn’t shoot poorly from deep as a team. They’d obviously take 40% three-point shooting in pretty much any game going forward. In that vein, Golden State’s season-low 30 three-point attempts say much more about the team’s collective choice to exploit its opponent’s abject weakness than any severe shooting struggles.

Here’s hoping the notoriously three-happy Dubs keep picking at foes’ defensive scabs, no matter where they are, as the season’s stretch run continues.

The post 3 key reactions as Warriors cool down Damian Lillard in comeback romp over Blazers appeared first on ClutchPoints.

This content was originally published here.

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