PORTLAND, Ore. — The Golden State Warriors’ season has not been a straight line. They’ve coped with injuries, behind-the-scenes squabbles, fatigue and even complacency. However they’re nonetheless a basketball superpower, and they’re imposing their will this postseason with one other majestic romp previous overmatched opponents.
On Monday night time, the Warriors clinched a fifth straight journey to the N.B.A. finals by finishing a four-game sweep of the Portland Path Blazers within the Western Convention finals. With their 119-117 extra time victory on the Moda Middle, the Warriors additionally preserved their hopes of a 3rd straight championship and their fourth in 5 seasons.
The one different group to achieve 5 straight N.B.A. finals was the Boston Celtics, once they went to a report 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966 (and received 9 titles, eight consecutively). The Los Angeles Lakers have been the final group to three-peat as champions, from 2000 to 2002.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr mentioned. “5 straight finals hasn’t been accomplished for the reason that ’60s, since Invoice Russell’s Celtics. And it hasn’t been accomplished for a motive: It’s actually, actually tough.”
Led by Stephen Curry, who completed with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, Golden State needed to mount an enormous comeback to get previous Portland in Sport 4. The Blazers have been forward by as many as 17 factors within the third quarter earlier than the Warriors whittled away the deficit.
“We’re by no means out of the struggle,” the Warriors’ Draymond Inexperienced mentioned.
After Klay Thompson tied the sport on a 3-pointer with lower than 2 minutes left in regulation, the Warriors pressured extra time when Portland’s Damian Lillard missed a operating layup. In extra time, the Warriors’ Alfonzo McKinnie scored on a putback for a 116-115 lead, then Inexperienced constructed on the lead with a 3-pointer. Portland nonetheless had an opportunity to go forward within the closing seconds, however Lillard’s drifting 3-pointer got here up quick as time expired.
[Damian Lillard fought his method by triple-teams and a rib damage, but he could not find a way to push Portland to victory.]
Inexperienced had his second straight triple-double, accumulating 18 factors, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He helped make just a little historical past, too, as he and Curry turned the primary N.B.A. teammates to have triple-doubles in the identical postseason recreation, in line with the Elias Sports activities Bureau.
Meyers Leonard, Portland’s beginning middle, scored 25 of his career-high 30 factors within the first half, whereas Lillard completed with 28 factors and 12 assists.
The Warriors will await the winner of the Jap Convention semifinal collection between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have a two-games-to-one lead in that collection, with Sport Four set for Tuesday night time in Toronto. The finals are scheduled to begin Might 30, and the Warriors plan to make use of their week-and-a-half break — a uncommon luxurious — to recharge.
“I really feel a a lot totally different vibe with our group now than I did 5 years in the past, when this was all model new,” Kerr mentioned earlier than Monday’s recreation. “Again then, it appeared like we had loads of video games the place everyone appeared scattered and nervous, and we needed to determine it out. It looks as if as of late we’re extra composed and extra assured as a result of we’ve been doing it for a very long time, and we’ve seen just about each state of affairs.”
The Warriors eradicated the Blazers regardless of not having their All-Star ahead Kevin Durant, who injured his right calf within the convention semifinals towards the Houston Rockets. Durant, who is predicted to be re-evaluated later this week, had been dominating defenders within the playoffs, averaging a team-leading 34.2 factors a recreation. There isn’t any timetable for his return.
For Sport 4, the Warriors have been additionally lacking Andre Iguodala, the invaluable sixth man who moved into the beginning lineup for 9 straight video games earlier than a sore left calf stored him out of the collection clincher.
In Durant’s absence, the Warriors have been leaning extra on ball motion whereas welcoming elevated scoring from Curry, who eviscerated each defender the Blazers despatched his method. Within the collection, Curry averaged 36.5 factors whereas taking pictures 46.9 p.c from the sphere.
The Blazers have been making an attempt to achieve the N.B.A. finals for the primary time since 1992. However Lillard, their All-Star level guard, struggled throughout the series and was hobbled for much of it by separated ribs. Lillard sustained the damage in Sport 2, when the Warriors’ Kevon Looney unintentionally pounced on his again whereas pursuing a unfastened ball.
In some ways, although, the end result was depressingly acquainted for the Blazers, whom the Warriors eradicated from the playoffs for the third time in 4 seasons.