The Warriors Come Up Short Against the Portland Trail Blazers

Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Two days after a disappointing 26-point loss on Christmas Day against a Lakers team missing LeBron James, the Golden State Warriors hoped to bounce back at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

They didn’t.

Despite Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum shooting 14-44 from the field, the Warriors fell to the Trail Blazers in overtime. It was a thrilling game that had fans of both teams biting their nails throughout.

With 2:30 left in regulation, the Trail Blazers were up 96-86, giving them a 97.2% win probability according to ESPN. This was after Seth Curry scored 11 straight points, culminating with this step-back three over his big brother.

Then Kevin Durant happened. KD scored 8 of the Warriors’ last 11 points in regulation, including this clutch three-pointer to tie the game. Lillard lost the handle on the final possession and the game went on to overtime.

Despite the heroics by the younger brother of the Curry family, Jusuf Nurkic was the MVP for the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored 27 points on 10-18 shooting and along with 12 rebounds. Nurkic was the only consistent scoring option on the starting lineup. The Warriors knew this and double-teamed Nurkic whenever he had the ball in the post during overtime. This opened up Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless up for wide open shots from beyond the arc … which they were unable to convert on. This game magnified the need for a reliable wing shooter in Portland. They missed out on the sweepstakes for Paul George which may have been their best shot at adding a dependable forward to the lineup.

In any case, it was a horrible start to the overtime session for the Trail Blazers. Two of their first three possessions ended in turnovers. Only four points were scored in the first three minutes of overtime — it seemed like both teams were trying their hardest to lose. The Warriors were up 106-102 before CJ McCollum hit a three-point shot and a step-back mid-range shot to take a one-point lead. With 52 seconds to go, Draymond Green made a corner three — a surprising sight. Over the last sixteen games, Green has attempted forty-two threes and connected on just eight. His 22.6% rate on three-pointers for the season is his lowest since he became a full-time starter in 2015.

With the Warriors up 109-107, McCollum and Nurkic missed on back-to-back game-tying shot attempts. After a Klay Thompson defensive rebound, Moe Harkless committed an intentional foul with 17 seconds left. The Trail Blazers still had another foul to give which they were prepared to use. However, Steph Curry’s inbound pass was stolen by Harkless and led to this game-winning three by Damian Lillard.

It’s fitting that the Warriors lost the game off of a sloppy mistake. It epitomizes their current struggles. The Warriors could have iced the game with the ball up by 4 in overtime. Instead, Steph Curry attempted a lazy turnaround shot with seven seconds left on the shot-clock. He airballed it.

The Warriors are shooting the ball at significantly worse percentages this year.

 Warriors' 2018 SeasonWarriors' 2019 Season
Field Goal Percentage50.3%48.0%
Three-Point Field Goal Percentage39.1%37.6%
Two-Point Field Goal Percentage56.0%53.8%
Efficient Field Goal Percentage56.9%54.7%

Draymond Green was previously mentioned for his shooting slump, but Klay Thompson’s slow start has been even more surprising. He’s a 41.6% career three-point shooter. This year, he’s hitting just 33.3% of his three-point attempts. His free-throw percentage (80.4%) is his lowest since 2014 and his two-point field goal percentage is his lowest since 2015. This is not the Klay Thompson we’re used to seeing.

Of course, it isn’t time to panic. The Warriors will still always be Finals favorites with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green on the team. Oh yeah, and DeMarcus Cousins will return soon. The team is stacked. They were the one-seed in a stacked Western Conference before the loss to Portland — even with their current offensive struggles. They’ll more than likely be fine.