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Western Conference Finals Recap

Stephen Curry

Western Conference Finals Series Review

The Golden State Warriors are advancing to their fifth consecutive NBA finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. The Trail Blazers came up short in their first conference finals appearance since 2000, while the Warriors refused to drop a single game.

No Kevin Durant, No Problem

Golden State came out in game one playing like their old selves. They played the way they played before Kevin Durant came on board. There was constant movement, screening, and the ball was hopping. Portland’s gameplan defensively also aided Golden State’s dominance. On ball screens, the man defending the screen setter sagged off into the paint allowing Stephen Curry to dribble into uncontested looks, and he made them pay. Curry nailed nine triples en route to a dominant 36 point performance. Golden State won in a runaway, 116-94.

Game Two, Different Story

The Trail Blazers played an incredible first half of basketball in game two. They held a 65-50 halftime edge and looked poised to head back to Portland all tied up. Then, the third quarter happened. Golden State erased the 15 point deficit in one quarter and it was all tied up heading to the fourth. Portland played inspiring basketball to start the fourth quarter and opened up an eight-point lead. Curry again, took over and led Golden State to a come from behind victory with 37 points, to give them a 2-0 series lead.

Deja Vu in Game Three

Portland came out once again like madmen in the first half of game three and took a 13 point lead into the break. However, Golden State used an impressive third quarter to erase the deficit once again. They outscored Portland 29-13 in the quarter and held a three-point lead going into the final period. Golden State would go on to outscore Portland 28-20 in the fourth to take a 3-0 series lead. Stephen Curry was again magnificent as he went for 36 points.

Western Conference Finals Finale

Game four was the most evenly played game of the series. Both teams came out hot in the first quarter with Golden State holding a 36-35 edge after one. Portland’s surprise breakout star in the series, Meyers Leonard, poured it on in the second quarter and finished the half with 25 points. However, he had a quiet second half and finished with just 30 points. Portland went into the break looking to stave off elimination and held the lead for the third time in the series at halftime. The second half was again, evenly played, and the game went into overtime for the first time in the series. Golden State would prevail and sweep Portland behind another splendid performance from Stephen Curry.

Golden State Warriors

What Went Right

Head coach Steve Kerr and his staff laid out a terrific game plan to stop Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. They knew Portland liked to get the ball in there hands and have them come off of ball screens. Golden State countered this plan by trapping the ball handler and forcing the ball out of Lillard and McCollum’s hands. All of the extra attention really made it tough for Lillard and he shot a putrid 37 percent from the floor over the four games. On the offensive side of the ball, Golden State got back to their old ways. They relied on ball and body movement and ran circles around Portland. Curry and Klay Thompson looked dominant at times offensively and Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet.

Looking AheadĀ 

Golden State will look to win their third consecutive Larry O’Brien trophy and their fourth in five years. They will take on the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors. That series is tied at two games a piece and looks like it could go the distance. This is great news for Golden State as it will allow Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins more time to get healthy.

Portland Trail Blazers

What Went Wrong

Portland actually showed out quite well in this series despite being swept. Game one was the only game of the series that they didn’t have a realistic chance to win but they need to learn how to finish games. Portland’s defensive scheme was weak. Allowing Curry and Thompson to come off ball screens without hedging with the ball screen defender is a recipe for disaster. As a result, they were shredded by the Warriors’ offense. On the offensive side, they had no answer for the constant double teams that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were facing but they kept running high screen and roll. Getting the ball to McCollum or Lillard with Steph Curry switched off on them and letting them go isolation would have allowed for more success and likely extended the series.

Looking AheadĀ 

Portland has a lot to be optimistic about heading into the offseason. They just extended their head coach, Terry Stotts, and appear to be extending Damian Lillard. They need to upgrade either of their starting forward spots and hope the three-game explosion by Meyers Leonard is a thing of the future. He was fantastic. They will also get injured big man Jusuf Nurkic back next season. Portland has a lot to look forward to and should be a team to look out for over the next few seasons.

Main Photo:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Getty Images / Ezra Shaw)


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