If the Portland Trail Blazers want to have any chance of challenging the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 Western Conference Finals, they have to steal one of the first two contests at Oracle Arena. Kevin Durant won't play Game 1 because of a calf strain, and he's unlikely to be the court for Game 2.

Even without their best player, the defending champs expected to maintain home-court advantage. Golden State is a 7.5-point favorite in the series opener Tuesday night, according to the betting line OddsShark. The total is 219.

The Warriors faced their most difficult test of the playoffs when they visited the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of their second-round series without an injured Durant. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson carried Golden State to an impressive 118-113 victory on the road. The Splash Brothers could have a few more repeat performances to start their next series.

When Durant left Game 5 with his injury, the star guards stepped up in a similar way. There’s little reason to think that won’t continue Tuesday night.

Portland has two impressive guards of their own. Damian Lillard is widely recognized as the third-best guard in the NBA. CJ McCollum might be climbing the list of best shooting guards with his postseason, especially after dropping 37 points in a Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Curry and Thompson can rely on veterans like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala to make big plays in the conference finals. There isn’t nearly the same level of confidence that the likes of Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter and Evan Turner will provide the same kind of support to Portland’s guards.

Hood’s Game 1 status is in question after he suffered a knee injury Sunday night. Kanter could be in trouble defensively when the Warriors play a smaller lineup, and Kevon Looney has actually given Golden State good minutes at center. Before scoring 14 points last game, Turner had seven points in the entire postseason.

Unless Curry and Thompson are just way off from three-point range, Game 1 might not be particularly close.

Prediction: Golden State over Portland, 115-100

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is unanimously regarded as the best shooter in NBA history. In this picture, Curry of the Golden State Warriors poses for a picture during the Golden State Warriors media day in Oakland, California, Sept. 24, 2018. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images