After the Golden State Warriors defended home court and took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, the Portland Trail Blazers needed a big response in Game 3 at home. They delivered one in the first half, but couldn't sustain the effort and were overwhelmed in the second half, as the Warriors secured a 110-99 win to go up 3-0 in the series.
The Blazers made a lineup change to start Game 3, inserting Meyers Leonard into the starting lineup for Enes Kanter. It turned out to be a brilliant move by head coach Terry Stotts, as Leonard provided a big boost on both ends of the floor. At halftime, he had as many buckets as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined and was instrumental in the Blazers going into the break up 13 points.
But in what should come as little surprise, relying on Leonard to carry the offense wasn't sustainable for the Blazers, and the Warriors soon got themselves back into the game. They ended the third quarter on a 22-6 run to take the lead heading into the fourth. They never trailed again, and pulled away in the final few minutes.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 36 points, while Draymond Green put together another postseason masterpiece with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals. For the Blazers, Lillard and McCollum struggled once again, combining for 42 points on 38 shots.
Here are a few takeaways from the Warriors' important victory:
Draymond does it all
There was a lot of discussion this season about Draymond Green slipping a bit, and for good reason. He only played in 66 games, his numbers were way down across the board and he didn't seem to have quite the same impact on games. But in the playoffs, he's been phenomenal, and he put together another masterpiece on Saturday night.
Green was everywhere in this game, and it's no surprise that he was not only on the floor but instrumental in their big 22-6 run to close the third. His playmaking, in particular, was fantastic during that stretch, as he finished with six assists in the third quarter alone.
His ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor and in such a variety of ways is almost unparalleled in the league, and the Warriors have needed every bit of it the last few games. Green finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals for his seventh postseason triple-double, which is more than everyone else in this history of the Warriors franchise combined.
History repeats itself
In Game 2 back in Oakland, the Trail Blazers came out on fire in the first half, and built their lead to 17 points late in the first half. But the Warriors responded with one of their patented third-quarter bursts and recaptured the lead before the frame was even over. They then held on in the fourth for a big win to take a 2-0 lead.
Fast-forward to Saturday night. Once again, the Blazers played well in the first half, and this time their advantage grew to as much as 18 points in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Once again, however, the Warriors showed their resolve and playoff experience and battled back. Using a 22-6 run to close the quarter, they took the lead into the fourth and pulled away for their third straight win in the series.
A loss is a loss, and the Blazers were always facing a difficult task to come back from a 2-0 deficit in this series. But to lose Game 3 in the same exact fashion as Game 2, and to do it at home just makes it even more brutal.
Leonard steps up, but can't carry Blazers
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was rightly criticized for his defensive game plan in Game 1, which allowed Steph Curry far too much space to operate. But to his credit, he's shown the ability to learn from his mistakes and adapt, which is what he continued to do in Game 3, inserting Meyers Leonard into the starting lineup for Enes Kanter. The move paid off right away, as Leonard provided a nice boost of energy on both ends of the floor and led the Blazers in scoring with 13 points in the first half.
He had as many baskets at that point as Lillard and McCollum combined. The problem, of course, is that isn't sustainable, and the Blazers didn't get enough production from their two stars in the second half to offset Leonard making his inevitable return to earth. The duo went a combined 7-of-20 from the field in the second half as the Warriors took over. They didn't get much help, to be fair, but they got plenty of it in the first half, and this was when Portland needed them to step up. Credit to the Warriors for their defense, which made life tough for both of them, but 42 points on 38 shots from Lillard and McCollum is never going to win you a playoff game.
Catch up on all of the action from Portland this evening with CBS Sports' live blog.
How to watch Warriors vs. Blazers Game 4
- Date: Monday, May 20
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Moda Center -- Portland, Oregon
- TV channel: ESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Warriors -3.5 (over/under 220.5)
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