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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Three things to watch in Game 3 between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers

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Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry [NBA Getty Images]

The Golden State Warriors handled business in Game 1 and used an 18-point comeback in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers.

A team with this much experience knows the importance of this Game 3 and just how hard it would be for the Blazers to come back from down 3-0. Even without Kevin Durant, who will miss both Games 3 and 4, the Warriors have their chance to keep their foot on the pedal and get themselves within one game of advancing to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals.

Portland let Game 2 slip away, but they can't hang their heads for long. They now have to mimic what Golden State was able to do in the first two games, defending home court to keep this series alive.

Here are your three keys to watch for in Game 3...

Can Steph keep it up?

Stephen Curry has been incredible in stepping up in Kevin Durant's absence. His performances in Games 1 and 2 could be directly attributed to the Warriors 2-0 series lead to this point.

He's averaging 36.5 points per game on 51.1% shooting from the field and 44.8% from beyond the arc, posting almost seven 3-pointers per contest. He's yet to miss a free throw, going a perfect 14-for-14 from the charity stripe, while adding 7.5 assists and 7.0 rebounds per game.

The Trail Blazers have not found an answer for the former unanimous MVP. In Game 1, Curry had looks similar to what he sees in shootaround - the Blazers were dropping their bigs in the pick-and-roll and Curry made them pay by matching his playoff career-high for 3-pointers in a game with nine.

Portland made things a little more difficult for him in Game 2, doing its best to run the sharpshooter off the line. The results showed they had some success, as they forced Curry to go 4-for-14 from 3-point land.

But where Curry made his biggest impact was attacking the bigger defender off the switch in the pick-and-roll, beating his opponent off the dribble and forcing defenders to foul. He got to the free throw line 11 times, converting all 11 attempts.

Curry finished with a game-high 37 points despite a better defensive gameplan to cut off his perimeter shooting. If he can keep these types of performances going, Portland's number of games remaining this season will be limited.

Can Lillard and McCollum score more efficiently?

Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have played solid basketball through two games in this series, but neither of them have exploded for big performances.

Both shot under 40.0% from the field in Games 1 and 2 and have yet to eclipse the 25-point mark. Against a high-powered offence like the Warriors - even without Durant - the Trail Blazers desperately need either Lillard, McCollum or both to get going in Game 3.

Lillard has shot 10-for-28 (35.7%) from the field in this series. In fact, since his monster first-round series, where he scored 33.0 points per game on 46.1% shooting from the field and 48.1% from long range, Lillard has struggled to find a consistent shooting stroke.

Two encouraging numbers for Lillard in the Western Conference Finals: He's 7-for-17 (41.2%) from 3-point land and has only missed one free throw at 15-for-16.

As for McCollum, he's 16-for-42 (38.1%) from the field through the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. The major difference for the crafty scorer is he's not knocking down his beloved midrange pull-ups as often in this series.

According to NBA.com, McCollum shot 49.1% on midrange pull-up jumpers against the Denver Nuggets. Against the Warriors, that number has dropped to 38.9%, as he's just 7-for-18 on those midrange attempts.

The majority of his scoring comes from his wide variety of midrange pull-ups and floaters, and the Warriors have done a good job of making things difficult for him in his sweet spots on the floor.

McCollum is 4-for-12 (33.3%) from long range and has only taken four free throw attempts in the series. If he could get to the line more often or find his stroke from beyond the arc, it could free up more looks from that 10-15 foot range he works so well in.

If the Blazers are going to take Game 3, it will because one of these two prolific scorers find a way to score more efficiently.

Do or die time for Portland

Without playing a home game, the Trail Blazers' backs are already against the wall.

Teams trailing 0-2 in the Conference Finals are 5-51 all-time, so the odds are already stacked against them. Should they go down 0-3, well, we all know what that means.

No team in NBA history has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit. Teams are 135-0 in a playoff series in which they built a 3-0 lead.

And those are just general numbers for all teams in NBA history - this specific instance just so happens to be one of the most dominating dynasties the league has ever seen.

Stealing Game 2 on the road would have been crucial in this series, perhaps even applying a bit of pressure on the recovery process of Durant, but that game is in the past. The Blazers are desperate to take Game 3 or they'll be in trouble of exiting the NBA Playoffs by way of a sweep for the third consecutive season.

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