Los Angeles, CA — The two-time defending champs are now one game away from getting back to a place they are familar with, the NBA Finals.
They defeated the Portland Trailblazers in Game 3 on Saturday evening 110-99, taking full control of the Western Conference Finals 3-0.
They had to overcome another double-digit halftime deficit (66-53) as they did in Game 3. The Blazers looked as if they learned from what having a double-digit lead heading into the last two quarters against the champs meant. They kept the distance for half of the third quarter, then the Warriors had an encore.
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Portland led 73-59 with just over eight minutes remaining, and the champs took over the quarter in the final eight, outscoring the Blazers 23-10, and went into the fourth with an 82-79 lead. Blazers Zach Collins knocked down a 3-pt tying the game at 82 in the first minute of the fourth, but they were never able to regain the lead. Portland was outscored 57-33 in the second half, and it was the second consecutive game where Portland surrendered a double-digit lead at the half.
This time it wasn’t Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson leading the way, but Draymond Green leading the way in every facet.
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Green stirred up his seventh career triple-double of his postseason career with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. His teammates and coaches acknowledged that this is one of the best performances of Green’s postseason career. "I don't even know what to say about Draymond," head coach Steve Kerr said. "He was a wrecking ball, destroying everything in his path." He was absolutely correct. Green was the only player in the game to record double digits in the rebounds and assists categories.
“When Kevin is not on the floor, I know I have to be more aggressive. So whether that's attacking the basket, putting more pressure on the defense, I understand that," said Green. Kevin Durant missed his fourth straight game as he recovers from a right calf injury.
Curry, who came in avergaging 36.5 ppg in the series, finished with 36 points, and was 11-26 from the field. He made 6-11 from 3-pt. Klay Thompson had 19 points.
You see the leadership role in full affect when he addressed a missed dunk by reserve Jordan Bell in the third quarter. “He missed a shot tonight? Did he? I did. He did too. Keep it moving.” he said to Bell, “It’s okay, you missed a shot. Everybody did. Nobody’s perfect.” This goes to show the steps Green has taken as the unquestioned leader, and how other’s need to step up in Durant’s absence.
They won the rebounding category 49-41 and were a +5 in assists.
Photo By: Blazers Edge
Portland’s first trip to the conference finals since 2000 is in jeopardy of being over on Monday when they’ll take the court for Game 4.
Head coach Terry Stotts knew the importance of not going down 0-3 in the series, when he went with lineup change. He went with backup center Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup instead of Enes Center. Leonard chipped in well as a starter, scoring 16 points, and making 3-7 from 3-pt. It wasn’t his scoring that necessarily had the biggest impact with him in the lineup, but it was his presence on the defensive end. It was his activity defending against the Warrior's screen & roll, and his multiple efforts of chasing the Warrior's shooters off the 3-pt line.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum struggled from the field yet again in this series. They missed a combined 26 shots and scored 42 of the team’s 99 points. Lillard knows this time of year can’t be about anything else aside from trying to get wins. Everybody's tired," Lillard said. "It's the third round of the playoffs after a long season. Our last series, I got a lot of attention. The team was giving me a lot of attention and the same thing in this series. It takes a lot to deal with that and go out and chase guys around on the defensive end.”
Evan Turner chipped in with 12 points off the bench.
"We're going to give it our best effort on Monday. That's all that matters," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We're going to give it our best effort and whatever happen, happens."
Warriors Lead Series 3-0
Game 4: Monday 5/20