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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton (4) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Scott Threlkeld)

NBA: Western Conference Playoffs off to Intriguing Start

The Western Conference playoffs got off to a wild start this past weekend.

The Spurs flipped home court after taking a close Game 1 against the Nuggets in Denver.

Portland beat Oklahoma City for the first time all season to take the series.

And Golden State and Houston blew out their opponents on home court as they looked like the teams that met in the West finals last year.

(1) Golden State vs. (8) Los Angeles (C)

Series: Warriors lead 1-0

The Dubs got off on the right foot in front of their own fans, beating the Clippers 121-104.

It helped that Stephen Curry had one of those Steph games. Curry dropped 38 points, including a scorching 8-for-12 from three-point range. It wasn’t just an impressive game on the offensive side though (seven assists included). Curry earned a double-double by adding 15 rebounds, including 12 on the offensive end.

Several things did in the Clippers that they’ll need to fix if they don’t want to get swept. Los Angeles had 17 turnovers to only 10 assists, while only two starters scored in double figures.

In addition, the Warriors’ Kevin Looney had the highest +/- rating in the game, at +30. The Clippers won’t win many games in this series if that figure remains at a similar level.

(2) Denver vs. (7) San Antonio

Series: Spurs lead 1-0

The only road team to win a Game 1 in the Western Conference, the Spurs flipped home court after a 101-96 win in Denver.

The main difference in the first tilt of this series: three-point percentage.

San Antonio was very efficient from beyond the arc, knocking down nearly 47 percent of their threes (7-for-15). Denver meanwhile, was the opposite, connecting on only 21 percent of their treys (6-for-28).

It will be interesting to see how this young Nuggets team responds in Game 2 while going up an experienced Spurs team that’s been in evenly matched series like this before.

(3) Portland vs. (6) Oklahoma City

Series: Trail Blazers lead 1-0

Damian Lillard dropped 30 points, CJ McCollum and Enes Kanter each scored at least 20, and the Portland took the opening game of its series 104-99.

The Blazers got off to a blazing-hot start, outscoring Oklahoma City 39-25 in the first quarter to set the tempo.

It’s a big first step for a Portland team that was pummeled last year by the Pelicans in the first round, and that had lost every game they had played against the Thunder so far this year.

The playoff struggles had on the team’s mind apparently, as McCollum thanked one Portland fan that had called them out for not winning in the playoffs before the start of this season.

(4) Houston vs. (5) Utah

Series: Rockets lead 1-0

32 points.

No, that’s not how many points James Harden dropped (a below-season average 29 points and 10 assists though). That’s how many points Houston won in the second biggest blowout of the playoffs so far (Milwaukee’s humiliation of Detroit by 35 being the other.)

https://twitter.com/HoustonRockets/status/1117789676104904704

Utah struggled to keep up with Houston’s explosive offense, falling behind by 15 at halftime before dropping the game 122-90.

The Rockets had seven guys score in double figures and in classic Mike D’Antoni fashion, his team took, and made, a lot of threes.

41 of them in fact, but they knocked down 15 of them, outscoring Utah by 24 from beyond the arc.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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