Most of the top NBA teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences already have an idea who they will face in the first round of the NBA Playoffs 2017. In the West, the Golden State Warriors will be facing the improved Portland Trail Blazers.
After blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, the Warriors upgraded their roster with the acquisition of Kevin Durant in free agency. The creation of the “Super Death Lineup” made most people considered them as a Super Team. Despite not being able to beat their regular-season record of most wins, the Warriors still have the best win-loss record in the league this season.
NBA Playoffs 2017: Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
The Warriors sit at the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference and will be facing the No. 8 seed, Portland Trail Blazers. Earlier this season, the Trail Blazers struggled to live up to expectations mainly because of their lack of frontcourt depth. Before the February 23 trade deadline, Portland managed to address their weakness by acquiring Jusuf Nurkic from the Denver Nuggets.
With the rise of Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets decided to move Nurkic and a 2017 protected first-round pick to the Trail Blazers for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-round pick, and cash consideration. To everyone’s surprise, the Bosnian Beast immediately made an impact on both ends of the floor for the Trail Blazers.
His presence in the upcoming matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Warriors will undeniably be a huge factor. However, Hall of Famer Rick Barry suggests that Portland should consider shutting down Nurkic.
“I would never take the chance with somebody you knew was valuable to your future. Not to play in a series that you knew your chances were remote to win even if everything was going your way,” Barry said. “I’d look to the future.”
NBA Playoffs 2017: GSW easily eliminating the Trail Blazers
Meanwhile, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News believes Jusuf Nurkic wouldn’t be a factor in the Trail Blazers-Warriors first-round matchup. The Warriors’ “Super Death Lineup” will take full advantage if the Trail Blazers decided to use Nurkic.
“Big men do not tend to kill them,” Kawakami said. “They speed up the game so much that they almost take the big man off the floor. Nurkic is good. He could bug them but he has to play at full speed… what are the Warriors going to do? They’re going to pick-and-roll him at full speed… they run up and down the court… it tends not to be the big center who kills them. They take the big center off the court.”
Photo courtesy: Noah Salzman/Wikimedia
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