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Blazers And Warriors Playing Better Defense Will Force Game 2 To Go 'Under'

Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors

Thursday 9 P.M. ET

Free NBA Pick: Under 219

Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

While the two teams played an exciting Game 1, the offensive output was not what we expected because of the fact that both sides have to go deep to their respective benches. The Golden State Warriors once again plan to take their resurrected “Strength in Numbers” approach up against a team that prides itself in its depth when the defending champs host the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night. Playing without injured Kevin Durant, the top-seeded Warriors got key contributions from several backups, including Quinn Cook, in a 116-94 victory over the Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday night.

The Warriors ranked 28th out of 30 teams in points off the bench during the regular season, and they were outscored by an average of 55.7-29.7 by Los Angeles Clippers backups in the first round. But they responded to Durant’s calf injury in the Western semifinals with a greater commitment to the reserves in Game 6 at Houston. Kevon Looney had 14 points and Shaun Livingston 11 as the Warriors dominated the Rockets 33-17 off the bench in a 118-113, series-clinching win.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr took the same approach in Game 1 against Portland, which prevailed over Denver in its Western semifinal in large part because of a 34.1-25.1 average advantage in bench points.That confidence paid dividends in the series opener, with all eight Warriors backups who participated recording a positive plus/minus as Golden State’s reserves outscored their Portland counterparts 36-28. While the Warriors, who will again be without Durant in Game 2, hope for more of the same, Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts walked away from Game 1 shaking his head over his team’s performance.

Just two days removed from a tense Game 7 win at Denver, the Trail Blazers shot poorly (36.1 percent), committed an inordinate number of turnovers (21) and struggled to defend Steph Curry on the perimeter (9-for-15 on 3-pointers). While Head Coach Terry Stotts is confident his club can remedy all three of those issues, standout guard Damian Lillard noted a fourth shortcoming — the combined 36 points he (19) and backcourt sidekick CJ McCollum (17) contributed on 11-for-31 shooting, including 3-for-10 on 3-pointers. Lillard also had seven of his team’s 21 turnovers.

The Warriors and Blazers are both short-handed and because of that Game 2 will most likely fall below the 219 point threshold for the total points line. Smart bettors will wager the under, as these two teams muster up enough energy from their depleted benches to compete and supplement the scoring from each respective backcourt.