Golden State continued their run of dominance, completing their sweep over Portland with a 119-117 win on Monday night. The win punched the Warriors’ ticket to the finals for the 5th consecutive season, the first team to do so since the 1966 Celtics.
Though a sweep seems indicate an uncompetitive series, that wasn’t quite the case with what took place on the court. Portland found themselves in every game of the series, including tallying a significant advantage in total minutes led, with a 101 to 83 margin. However, despite the leads Portland was able to amass, leading by 15 points or more in three of the four games, no lead proved safe. Golden State simply had too many weapons, and defensively Portland had no answers for Golden State even without leading scorer Kevin Durant.
In Durant’s absence, Steph Curry became the number one option for the Warriors, and he had no trouble delivering. Curry recorded at least 36 points in each of the four games, including a triple double to close out the series on the road. Curry’s performance was enough to garner headlines across the league, including those from within his own team.
“I think he’s the second-best ever,” Andre Iguodala said, per Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. “I always thought that about him. I knew, but other people didn’t know.”
Curry’s high praise is well deserved, as he has become somewhat of an overlooked player as a result of Golden State’s balance and has been willing to take a backseat to other weapons on the Warriors roster when the situation calls for it. Yet, in Durant’s absence, Curry sent a strong message to the rest of the league, he is still an elite offensive talent and one opposing teams can’t afford to overlook.
Despite his dominance, Curry got plenty of help in their sweep of Portland. Draymond Green proved to be a nuisance the Trail Blazers couldn’t find an answer to, averaging 16.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists during the four-game sweep, including recording triple-doubles in games 3 and 4 on the road.
Klay Thompson also deserves his fair share of credit for the work he did during the series. Though he wasn’t the dominant scoring presence he has shown to be capable of, shooting just 37.1% from the field and 33% from behind the arc, his presence was felt on the defensive end. Thompson was tasked with guarding Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard for most of the series, and Thompson was able to limit his effectiveness significantly.
Lillard shot better than 40% from the field just one time in the series, along with scoring over 20 points in just two of the four games. Lillard has been a dominant offensive weapon for Portland throughout their run to the Western Conference Finals, but Thompson proved to be an obstacle Lillard couldn’t overcome.
With the win, the Warriors will move on to their fifth consecutive finals appearance and will now await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between Milwaukee and Toronto.