Well, it took 3½ games, but the Golden State Warriors -- what appears to be the real Golden State Warriors -- joined us for the 2016-17 season. The Warriors finally turned a game into a rout, and looked as magical as many expected them to look from the get go since adding Kevin Durant in the offseason, in a dominant 127-104 victory over the Blazers.
Stephen Curry finished with 28, Kevin Durant 20, and Ian Clark added 22 off the bench. Damian Lillard had 31 but just 11 in the second half.
Here's what we saw:
Return of The Golden Boy: Stephen Curry has been good to start this season. He has scored over 20 points per game, and still been one of the two best players on the team. But the magic we saw all of last season was not there. That unicorn-like creature came back with a vengeance in the third. Curry scored 23 points, hitting 8 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from deep in the third quarter alone on his way to 28 points. Curry was brilliant, amazing, incredible.
It was Curry looking for his own instead of settling in, and it helped push Golden State to a higher level.
The Danger of Curry-KD: The Thunder and Cavaliers figured out something that the Spurs had also implemented during the 2015-16 regular season. Curry is so problematic, but he has difficulty getting his quick-trigger shot up over bigs. If he's always looking for his shot, you worry less about the drive, and you'll take two over three every time. So switch the big onto Curry and press him out as far as possible. That worked, because Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green couldn't punish their switch with one-on-one play.
Here's what happens when the Blazers switch Al-Farouq Aminu onto Curry, leaving poor C.J. McCollum guarding Kevin Durant.
How do you guard that? You need a fleet of versatile, athletic 7-footers. Not one -- a roster full of them. Good luck.
Golden State Rediscovered Its Steel Curtain: Curry was great, Kevin Durant was awesome. But the Warriors got back to what really made them great in 2015 when they won the title: defense. Their rim protection was phenomenal, holding the Blazers to 13 for 22 at the rim, and 1 for 11 in the paint otherwise. That allowed the Warriors to get stops, rebounds, and run.
Portland shot 43 percent from the field, and Blazers who were not Damian Lillard or bench player Jake Layman in garbage time shot 3 for 22 from deep. Many of those were open good looks that Portland just couldn't knock down, but overall, the Warriors dominated defensively, which opened up their offense. They gave up only seven second-chance points.
Evan Turner Is In Struggle Mode: Turner was 5 for 6 for 14 points and two assists, which sounds great. The Blazers were outscored by 36 points with Turner on the floor and he added three turnovers. The offense just grinds into nothingness when Turner is in. It's fine to say it's early and he's still learning a new system, but the concern should be real.
A Brother Minus Splash: Klay Thompson once again was brutal from the field, shooting 6 for 17 and 0 for 7 from deep. He was visibly frustrated, muttering and shaking his head. He just cannot find his shooting stroke right now and it's a big hole in the Warriors' attack, which, given that they led by 35 at one point, tells you how good they could be at full strength if Thompson starts hitting.
Jake Layman, Garbage Time All-Star: Layman was 5 for 7 beyond the arc -- when the game was out of reach -- and had 17 points.
JaVale Played: JaVale McGee got a few minutes in garbage time. He had two dunks and two turnovers and was a minus-9.