Portland Trail Blazers @ Golden State Warriors
This week’s NBA Sundays match-up signals the start of the NBA Playoffs 2017 as the Golden State Warriors take on the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the First Round.
The Warriors come into the Playoffs with the home court advantage, having secured first seed in the Western Conference and the best record in the league.
The Trail Blazers fill the final playoff spot in the West and will look to cause an upset in the First Round.
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors this Sunday
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the strongest frontcourts in the league, second only to that of the Golden State Warriors, who they will face on Sunday.
Two-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, last year’s NBA Most Improved Player, have both averaged over 23 points per game during the regular season.
They will have to be on top form to compete with the likes of Curry and Thompson on Sunday.
The Trail Blazers will be boosted coming into this playoff journey with the news that Allen Crabbe will be returning to the line-up.
Crabbe is a scoring threat and his 44% three-point scoring percentage will be dangerous against any team.
Steph Curry is the reigning two-time MVP
The acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic from the Denver Nuggets has been a boost for the Blazers, and his defensive impact might prove fundamental in the series against the Warriors when back from his leg injury.
Nurkic has steadied the ship and created some dynamism on offense as well. Bringing Nurkic in has led to an increase in form for the Blazers, who before All-Star break were below the .500 mark. Since then, they have gone 18-7 which has only been beaten by Golden State.
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Player to watch: Damian Lillard
California native Damian Lillard comes into the post-season having averaged 27 points per game in the regular season.
He will be looking to continue his high scoring averages against the Warriors in the First Round. The two-time All-Star will be a potent threat to the Warriors and they will be looking to shut him down wherever possible.
A prolific scorer, Lillard had the third highest scoring game in the regular season with his 59 points against the Utah Jazz, so he will be trying to make a statement and match that when he comes up against Steph Curry on Sunday.
Lillard has been working on his three-point percentage and towards the end of the regular season managed to up it to 41.7% which will surely motivate him to keep pushing in the post-season.
Damian Lillard is having a career-best year with Portland
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors were the first team to clinch a playoffs spot this season, and they come into the Playoffs as the best team in the league once again.
The offensive powerhouse will be the team to beat with their formidable combination of 2017 NBA All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. It will be a battle of the frontcourts with Curry and Thompson coming up against Portland stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Curry scored 25.3 points per game this season and Thompson has helped out with 22.3. Both have to be in top form when they come up against the Portland duo, excellent scorers in their own right. The Warriors are first in the league in scoring with 115.9 points per game and they are also first in the league in assists per game with 30.4.
Golden State have also been solid on the defensive end and are 11thin opponent scoring, helped out by defensive titans Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. After only recently returning to action since suffering his injury at the end of February, Kevin Durant is making his playoff debut for Golden State on Sunday.
He took the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012, so has solid playoff experience and will add his supreme scoring to the already strong Warriors offense. The Warriors and Trail Blazers series will be a re-run of the Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs 2016, when the Warriors won the series 4-1.
Golden State come into the Playoffs as the best team in the league
Player to watch: Stephen Curry
The two-time reigning MVP is looking to add a second NBA Finals trophy to his collection.
He has had a great regular season, averaging 25.3 points per game and will be able to share the offensive duties with Durant and Thompson in the playoffs.
Against Portland, Curry averaged 27.3 points per game and 48.4 percent from three-point range during the regular season.
When Steph Curry met the Blazers in November he scored 23 of his 28 points in the third quarter, so will be looking to reignite that form when the two teams meet this Sunday.
Curry may well have missed out on regular season MVP this year, but he will be vying for Finals MVP and will be looking to set the tone early in Game 1.
Who wins? Tweet your prediction using #NBASUNDAYS
‘NBA Sundays presented by NBA 2K17’ on BT Sport – a live NBA game every Sunday at 8.30pm. This week on 16 April the Golden State Warriors will host the Portland Trail Blazers on BT Sport 1.