Los Angeles, CA — The Golden State Warriors will play for a third straight championship after sweeping the Portland Trailblazers on Monday night. They defeated the Blazers 119-117 in overtime.
It will be their fifth straight Finals appearance.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green’s triple-doubles were the reasons why. They became the first set of teammates to post triple-doubles in the same game in playoff history. They overcame another double-digit deficit when they overcame a 17-pt lead by the Blazers.
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"We've been here before. We've seen everything, every experience you can imagine. So we relied on that," Curry said. Curry, who came in averaging 36.5 PPG, finished with 37 points (11-25)FG, 13 rebounds (4 off), and 11 assists. Regarding the team’s mentality when leading scorer Kevin Durant went out in Game 5 of the semi-finals (due to right calf) against the Houston Rockets, he said “everyone took the challenge.”
"Five straight Finals and the historic nature of what that is, it's kind of crazy to think about. We wanna enjoy it, but we know four more wins defines your season — winning a championship. So we gotta stay locked in,” Curry said.
Green has had at least a double-double in all four games this series, and finished with a triple-double in the last two. Head coach Steve Kerr said after Game 3 about Green’s performance, “He was a wrecking ball, destroying everything in his path." He matched that intensity in Game 4 with 18 points, 14 rebounds (game-high), and 11 assists.
"We just really understand what we're capable of on both sides of the basketball," Green said. "We're never out of the fight. That's just always our mindset." That is a mindset of a team that depends on the first guy, all the way down to the last guy.
Klay Thompson had 17 points.
"Yeah, our opponents have been different, but other than that, it felt like one big season," Thompson said after Game 4. "It's really hard to differentiate each run. They have been different in their own unique ways, but it felt like one big season lumped together for the last five years, and we wouldn't have it any other way."
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Coach Kerr also saw production from other players not named Curry, Green, or Thompson. Without the services of Durant, Andre Iguodala, and DeMarcus Cousins, he went with others who haven't seen significant minutes in the postseason. He started Jordan Bell and Alfonso McKinnie alongside the three named above . McKinnie, who started his first ever playoff game, scored 12 points in 26 minutes and played critical minutes down the stretch and in overtime. Bell had seven points and used his energy and effort to bring something to the table.
"I think the championship pedigree, what that means, is not panicking in big situations and trusting your teammates, trusting what you're doing out there," Kerr said.
They were a +18 in rebounding 56-38.
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The Portland Trailblazers who reached the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2000, now head into the offseason looking to improve off a 53-win season. A year after being swept in the first round by the New Orleans Pelicans, they were taken out by the two-time defending champs this time around.
If they can take any good away from this series besides the fact this unit gained experience playing in a Conference Finals, it might be the play from young big man Meyers Leonard. Leonard, who got the last two starts in place of Enes Kanter possibly played his best professional game of his career in Game 4. He led Portland with a huge double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds. He made 5-8 from 3-pt and was 12-16 from the field.
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Coach Tery Stotts is expecting a healthy Jusuf Nurkic back next season, who missed the entire postseason after breaking his leg just before the end of the regular season. Now, with the sudden emergence of Leonard, Stotts will have a serviceable backup behind Nurkic.
But Coach Stotts knows this Blazers team will go as far as his backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will take them.
They didn't play as well as they would have liked.
Lillard averaged 22.3 ppg in the series, but struggled shooting the ball. He shot just 36% from the field and 37% from 3-pt.
McCollum, who was the hero in Portland's Game 7 victory over the Denver Nuggets, also struggled in the series shooting. He averaged 22 ppg, but shot 39% from the field and 34.6 from 3-pt.
The bench matched the Warriors with 28 points, and were a +12 from 3-pt.
The Golden State Warriors will now await the winner of the Toronto Raptors/Milwaukee Bucks series. The Bucks lead that series 2-1.