The Golden State Warriors, minus Kevin Durant, minus DeMarcus Cousins, minus Andre Iguodala, completed a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night, overcoming another 17-point deficit, and another Meyers Leonard Game, and Draymond Green getting dunked through the planet and back out the other side, to win 119–117, in overtime.
For their next act, maybe they will amputate all their left arms ahead of the NBA Finals. The Blazers made the conference finals more as a result of pluck and a generous bracket than top-end talent, but still—that’s a gutty, fearless, relentless basketball team, and it’s more than a little bit insane that the Warriors swept them away while without the services of at worst the third-best basketball player on Earth, to say nothing of their uber-talented reclamation project center and their world-class perimeter stopper. They opened Game 4 with Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie in their starting lineup, and Steve Kerr gave minutes to 11 different players. It didn’t matter. None of this matters.
Steph Curry kept the Warriors reasonably close through the first three quarters almost single-handedly, scoring 35 points on his first 18 shots. Curry finished with a triple-double on the night, and for the most part ran his Blazers counterparts ragged:
“Close” means something different for the Warriors—even when they were down 17 late in the third quarter, it never seemed like they were in too much trouble, in large part because they’d come back to win in each of the last two games in the series. They went down 17 in Game 2, and they went down 18 in Game 3. It’s an eerie and demoralizing pattern with these guys—a double-digit third-quarter lead against these Warriors is such a vulnerable position that it might actually be a negative. Uh oh, guys, better back off, wouldn’t want to go up 15 at this juncture in the game, that could be real trouble.
Funny enough, for all his brilliance, it wasn’t Curry who ultimately killed the Blazers Monday night. From the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter through overtime, Curry scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Curry’s fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, went for 3 points, also on 1-for-7 shooting. The Warriors shot a rancid, unbelievable 7-of-24 over the last five minutes of regulation and overtime, and also came back from behind and won. McKinnie and Kevon Looney snatched extra possessions for Golden State with offensive rebounds, and it was Draymond Green who hit the back-breaking three-pointer late in overtime to give the Warriors a two-possession lead. It was Green’s second made three-pointer of the entire series.
The Blazers had a final chance to tie or take the lead in overtime, but with 3.3 seconds on the clock and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blaring over the public address system, this desperation heave is the best they could come up with:
The Warriors advance to their fifth straight NBA Finals, hoping to capture their third consecutive championship. They’ll have nine days off before Game 1 of that series, which is scheduled for May 30. There’s every chance that all of Iguodala, Cousins, and Durant will be healthy for that series. The rest of the basketball world is reduced now to hoping the addition of several otherworldly players somehow makes the Warriors worse. Sheesh.