2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) - Trail Blazers (8)

2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) - Trail Blazers (8)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, 4/16 @ Golden State
Game 2: Wednesday, 4/19 @ Golden State
Game 3: Saturday, 4/22 @ Portland
Game 4: Monday, 4/24 @ Portland
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, 4/26 @ Golden State
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, 4/28 @ Portland
Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, 4/30 @ Golden State

Regular Season Series Results:

The Warriors won the regular season battle by winning 4 out of 4 games against the Trail Blazers.

Players To Watch:

Portland Trail Blazers:

Damian Lillard: The Oakland-born point guard will be thrilled to play against his hometown team in back-to-back years. He's been on a tear since the All-Star Break after some say he was snubbed from the team. He has been averaging 29.7 points per game on 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc. Oddly enough, Lillard has usually struggled playing at Oracle Arena. Lillard went full Brandon Jennings and believes the Blazers will win in 6.
Jusuf Nurkic: The Bosnian Beast has given the Blazers a complete 180 since he was traded to Portland. He is the center the team has needed for years and will be good player for them in the long run. He's still sloppy with the ball and prone to turnovers, which can be a major con against the Warriors. He's also coming off an injury and will more likely than not be playing at less than 100 percent.
CJ McCollum: There has been actual debates this year on who Portland's best player is because CJ McCollum is that good now. Some NBA heads even pencil him in as a top five shooting guard in the league. He's a threat to score 30 on any given night but will not play any defense. Keep an eye on how McCollum does in his second year of lengthy playoff action.

Golden State Warriors: 

Kevin Durant: All eyes will be on Kevin Durant throughout the postseason. He's continuing to face scrutiny for his decision to join Golden State after leaving the Thunder. With stellar play, those critics and doubters will slowly turn into fans. It'll be hard for Durant though. He's coming off a Grade 2 MCL Sprain. He went through the entire recovery process, but has only the 3 last regular season games under his belt before getting thrown into fierce playoff competition.
Stephen Curry: Curry has always had Lillard's number and constantly reminds him that the Bay Area now belongs to him. The Baby Face Assassin had arguably the best playoff game of his career last year in Portland after he came back from his MCL Sprain. Curry broke the NBA record for most points in an overtime with 17 points in Game 4 last season. Now he's at full strength. Watch for him to flex his muscle in the playoffs now since he was saving it in the regular season.
Andre Iguodala: It's a contract year for Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala and it'll be interesting to see how he recovers after his struggles in the Finals last year. He went from the Finals MVP to becoming the victim of one of the best blocked shots in league history. He's been on a tear since Durant went down and should be considered as one of the top candidates for Sixth Man of the Year. Look for him to toy against a faulty Portland defense.
Golden State nearly swept the Blazers last season with Stephen Curry playing in just two games. Although the Warriors said the contests seemed much tougher than just a five game series, the Blazers really had no chance. The Dubs swept the season series this year, played without Curry in the final matchup and still won on the road. Klay Thompson defends Lillard as well as anyone in the league and will limit his scoring. Portland is a much better with Nurkic, but Golden State also replaced a guy named Harrison Barnes with a guy named Kevin Durant. This will be a fast-paced and fun series to watch, but the Golden State is the superior team. Warriors in 4.