OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — From the opening tip, Klay Thompson shot lights-out and even heaved one in from way out in Stephen Curry territory. Draymond Green began yapping from the start while doing his thing to make plays every which way, calling on his teammates to bring an edge on defense.
With Curry sidelined because of a sprained right knee, Green and Thompson took charge again. Their supporting cast came through in the clutch, too.
Thompson scored 37 points in another brilliant performance as his fellow “Splash Brother” watched injured, and the Golden State Warriors dominated once more without their MVP to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 Sunday in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.
“Everything has to be racheted up,” said Green, who posted his second career postseason triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for the defending champions. “I just told the guys that we’ve got to come out with a defensive mindset.”
The offense happened on its own, with all five starters scoring in double figures.
Thompson hit seven more 3-pointers to become the first player in NBA history to make at least seven 3s in three straight playoff games.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.
Golden State reserve Anderson Varejao and Portland’s Gerald Henderson were ejected late in the third quarter after receiving their second technical fouls. Both were hit with a technical at the 3:29 mark of the third when Varejao tripped Henderson after they collided and the Portland guard jumped up, pointing a finger at his opponent’s face. They kept jawing a few minutes later and were tossed with 15.1 seconds left in the period.
Thompson hit a Curry-esque 30-foot 3-pointer in the opening minutes followed by another jumper to put Golden State up 10-2, and the Warriors ran with it from there. Thompson scored 18 of his points in the first quarter on 7-for-10 shooting with four 3s as Golden State built a 37-17 lead.
Damian Lillard had another slow start back home in the Bay Area, missing 11 of his first 13 shots before finishing with 30 points — 10 on free throws. Thompson had the tough chore of stopping him.
Shaun Livingston added 12 points and six assists after scoring 16 in each of his first-round starts in place of Curry.
The MVP injured his MCL when he slipped on a wet spot just before halftime of a Game 4 win at Houston in the first round last Sunday. He said Friday he hoped to do some shooting within a day or two, and that happened Saturday. He still will have to test the knee by putting pressure on it and planting on it when he shoots, then in some 5-on-5 scrimmages.
The Warriors had 38 and 30 assists their previous two games — including six quarters without Curry — by generating the kind of snappy ball movement coach Steve Kerr called for without Curry’s playmaking. Then 27 more assists Sunday.
“They are an elite team either way, and they showed that tonight,” said Lillard, his voice hoarse because of a chest cold. “We’ve just got to understand they’re a good first-quarter team. We’ve got to be better from the start of the game.”
Curry, dressed in a dark blue blazer and black shirt, emerged on the bench midway through the second quarter and received big cheers during a timeout. He was far less animated this time after picking up teammate Ian Clark during Wednesday’s elimination of the Houston Rockets. His knee told him that was a bad idea, but he did resume light shooting Saturday in hopes of playing Game 3.
“We just got into a good groove Games 4 and 5 against Houston and that carried over,” Kerr said. “Our guys have an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish, how we have to play without Steph.”
The Blazers’ two latest visits to Oracle were forgettable. Golden State routed them 128-112 on March 11 to avenge an embarrassing 32-point defeat in Portland last month coming out of the All-Star break. As Lillard scored 51 points, Golden State lost 137-105 at Portland on Feb. 19 — its largest margin of defeat since a 39-point setback to Denver in 2012 — before an impressive seven-game winning streak.
And on April 3, Golden State beat the Blazers here again in lopsided fashion.
On Sunday, Portland looked tired at times after eliminating the injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers in six games Friday night before traveling to the Bay Area on Saturday.
The Blazers began the game 1 of 9 and missed their initial five 3-point attempts.
With Mason Plumlee going up for a one-handed dunk late in the first quarter, Andrew Bogut blocked the shot, then got a hand up to bother Al-Farouq Aminu’s putback attempt. Bogut had another timely block in the second period.
Bogut had 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
These teams had reached the playoffs the same year eight times previously without matching up in the postseason — 1977, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2014 and 2015.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers were outrebounded 55-40. … Portland is 5-20 on Golden State’s home floor since the beginning of the 2003-04 season. … Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to shoot 13 for 43 and the Blazers were 10 of 31 from 3-point range.
Warriors: The Warriors outscored Portland 15-0 in fast-break points in the first half. … Golden State is 4-0 at home during these playoffs. … The Warriors have seven straight wins in Game 1 of a playoff series. … Through their first seven quarters without Curry, Golden State had outscored its opponents by 80 points. The Warriors’ 20-point lead after the first was their largest for the initial period during the playoffs for the shot-clock era.