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Blazers not sure they won’t face Curry

Stotts: ‘We’ll see’ if NBA MVP will return for Game 3

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: May 6, 2016, 11:05pm

TUALATIN, Ore. — Even though Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said during a radio appearance that Steph Curry will not play in Saturday’s Game 3, the Portland Trail Blazers are not relaxing.

That goes double — maybe even triple — for head coach Terry Stotts, who will not believe it until he sees it.

“We’ll see if he doesn’t play tomorrow,” Stotts said with a chuckle and he was right to be a little paranoid about it as the Warriors have officially listed Curry as doubtful, which represents a 25 percent chance to play.

Curry’s return would complicate an already complicated situation for the Blazers, facing a 2-0 series deficit.

As for what to learn from, Stotts also got the bad stuff out of the way first.

When talking to the team Thursday, Stotts showed the Blazers film of the fourth quarter of Game 2 as they gave up an 11-point lead.

For Friday, Stotts and his staff had the Blazers looked at more specific situations, mostly the first three quarters.

Take the bad, throw it out and mix it with the good. That has been Portland’s recipe all season long.

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They’re fine with where they are because they’ve been here countless times before.

“We’ve been there before — just not to this magnitude of the playoffs, but we’ve blown games before,” McCollum said. “We know how it feels. We just have to move forward and play better at home.”

Friday’s mood was definitely more upbeat than Thursday’s.

Over on the other side of the court, Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless studied film with assistant coach Nate Tibbets.

The Blazers believe that the defense they played for most of Game 2 — a they forced the Warriors to take 57 contested shots, six more than they did in Game 1, according to NBA.com — was good.

The recipe for that defensive success begins and ends with the primary assignments for Aminu and Harkless: Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

“They rely on everybody,” Stotts said. “Klay does what he does. Draymond does what he does. All the other guys do what they do well. I think it’s difficult to key on one or two things. That’s the sign of a great team.”

Although, the Blazers still think they can do a better job against Thompson.

“Klay got open a few times and just didn’t make shots. We can’t allow him to get that many open looks,” CJ McCollum said. “Offensive rebounds hurt because it leads to kick-out 3’s, longer possessions on an already dangerous team. Limit those things — lobs, limit easy things at the rim — and I think we’ll be okay.”

For Portland, the Blazers believe that it’s the mental part of the game which will be the biggest key to re-establishing competitive balance in the series.

“We need that same concentration more than anything else tomorrow,” Stotts said.

The Blazers are disappointed this series is not even, but there is very little that they can change, either.

They hope that sustained focus on both ends and a little boost from the home crowd can give them the edge they need to put the pressure on the Warriors and Curry to make the series interesting and extend their season.

Columbian Trail Blazers Writer