This year’s Western Conference Finals series in the NBA includes a perennial title favorite and one upstart squad that nobody expected to win one, much less two, playoff series at the beginning of the season.
The Golden State Warriors have made the NBA Finals in four straight seasons, winning three times. They defeated both the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets in six games in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers have made the playoffs in six straight campaigns, but they have never made it past the second round in that time period. They shocked the world by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games and outlasting the Denver Nuggets in seven games in a hard-fought series.
Both teams have some significant injuries as they begin their matchup against each other today (9 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN). Jusuf Nurkic is out and Rodney Hood is recovering from a knee injury for the Blazers, while All-Stars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are both out for the Warriors.
What themes will be crucial for the rest of the players on these teams as they face off in Oakland? This Game 1 preview will discuss some of them before advising on our Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors predictions against the US offshore sports betting sites.
Can Evan Turner Continue to Make a Scoring Impact?
Turner registered these combined numbers in the first 11 games of his playoff run for the Blazers: seven points on 3-of-19 shooting with 1-of-2 shooting from the free-throw line. Those numbers are not just bad; they are almost incomprehensibly bad. Turner isn’t a score-first player, but he needed to be more of a threat for Portland.
On Sunday, he was a massive X-factor for Portland with a surprising 14 points in 19 minutes. He made eight of his nine free throws.
When Turner is at his best, he can be a poor man’s version of the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala: a point forward with strong playmaking chops and versatile defense. However, Turner needs to be at least somewhat of a scoring threat to justify significant playing time in this series.
Portland is going to need offensive help for star guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, especially with Jusuf Nurkic out for the year and Rodney Hood’s status in doubt for Game 1 after a Game 7 knee injury. Turner has to help in the scoring column.
Can the Warriors Make This Game a Track Meet?
The Blazers are just coming off a grind-it-out seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets. The series’ pace of play was much slower than the average NBA game, and Portland seemed to like it that way. The squad’s transition defense leaves much to be desired.
Golden State will be just a tad fresher with a few days off between games. The Warriors will have home-court advantage, and their crowd often eggs them when they get on the fast break. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both masters of the transition three, and Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green both make great plays as passers and finishers on the break.
The shock of a significant pace increase, as well as Golden State’s superior transition play, could bury the Blazers early on if the Warriors are insistent at creating turnovers and pushing the ball up the floor after defensive rebounds.
Will Zach Collins Stay Out of Foul Trouble?
The Warriors are a team that knows how to punish big men who aren’t very agile on defense. They exploit switches well, move quickly on offense and often play smaller lineups that force opposing big men to play more perimeter defense.
If you want to beat the Warriors, it is best to have a big man with some defensive versatility who can also do some damage inside as a rebounder, rim protector and scorer.
Enter Collins. Portland’s 7-foot big man is just 21 years old, but he has shown a lot of promise as someone who can play both the 4 and the 5, protect the rim and do several things decently well on offense.
One key thing holding Collins back is foul trouble. He has averaged 3.5 fouls in just 18 minutes per game this postseason. He shows his inexperience at times, also. Portland desperately needs him to play like a veteran if it wants to keep this game and series competitive.
Our Preview’s Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors Game 1 Betting Picks & Predictions
While Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins are great players for the Warriors, Golden State has a very clear winning identity that it established without them for a few seasons on the strength of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.
Portland being without Jusuf Nurkic and with Rodney Hood out or limited could spell trouble for a team that just finished a grueling seven-game series.
The Blazers’ strength from their backcourt is completely neutralized by the Warriors. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are better than Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Expect Golden State to keep the pace of this game quick on their home floor. The Warriors will probably jump out to a lead and the Blazers will have to play fast to close the gap. So these are the Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors Game 1 predictions, with picks, that this preview is advising:
- The Warriors are favored by 7.5 points with the American sportsbooks. I would suggest putting some money down on the Warriors -7.5pts @ best odds of -107 with Bookmaker. The other bookies are -110.
- The playoffs have been mostly slow-paced, but I believe this game will be played at a faster pace because of the circumstances. Both backcourts should score plenty of points on each other. I recommend betting the over 219pts @ -110 with Intertops. It is 219.5pts or -115 with the others.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.