Golden State Warriors opened their Western Conference Finals series with Portland Trail Blazers with a convincing 116-94 win at the Oracle Arena on Tuesday.
The two-time defending champions were without Kevin Durant due to a calf injury but Steph Curry stepped up in his absence with 36 points – including nine three-pointers.
Golden State are 1.50 to win the NBA Championship, while Easterm Conference hopefuls Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors are 3.40 and 10.00 respectively.
The Blazers were unable to contain Curry, who also managed seven assists and six rebounds, and the two-time MVP was delighted with the victory.
“It was a nice flow,” said Curry. “It just puts so much pressure on the defence. “It’s fun when everyone’s running around, cutting, and we’re whipping the ball around – that’s when we’re at our best.”
Game 2 takes place on Thursday at the Oracle Arena and the Blazers need to find a response before the series heads to Portland for Games 3 and 4.
Damian Lillard has starred for Portland this season and is averaging 33 points per game in the playoffs but was largely kept quiet on Tuesday as GSW restricted him to just 19 points.
The Blazers must find a way to work Lillard into the game and handle Curry if they are to stand any chance of reaching the NBA Finals.
Portland are 34.00 to win the NBA Championship outright and 6.00 to win their series with Golden State.