Warriors march past Blazers into West Finals
Sometimes the ugly way is the only way. And Golden State’s series-winning victory against the Blazers definitely wasn’t pretty.
Stephen Curry said:
“That dude had the best series I think I’ve ever seen him play. On both ends of the floor, defending Dame, exhausting all his energy to make it uncomfortable for him. And the things that he was able to do offensively, hopefully that doesn’t get lost in our series and the way that we played as a team. Because you look down and see that he had 33 points and chased Dame around for all 34 minutes he was on the floor.”
Before the game it was evident Thompson could have a good night. During warmups, he was feeling a different rhythm, and everything was falling. The right roll here, feet set properly there, the Dubs’ No. 2 was in control.
It translated, too, with Thompson scoring 17 in the first half, and 16 more points in a scorching third quarter in which he shot 6-for-9 and his presence on the floor alone helped close the margin that Portland was white-knuckling.
Of his pregame rhythm carrying into the game itself, Thompson said:
“I thought I was taking good shots out there and I got my feet under me. I felt like my shot was going and you know when you see a couple go in, that always helps. Especially in a game where you get a couple easy ones around the rim, that’s when I’m at my best.”
The Blazers got off to a scorching start as guard Damian Lillard poured in 12 first quarter points to lead Portland’s starters to an early 25-17 opening frame lead, though the total deficit was only three after a late-quarter Warriors surge.
Blazers starters outscored the Warriors’ starting five 50-38 in the first half, forcing the bench to work hard so the game didn’t slide out of reach.
That’s when Thompson stepped up. He said:
“I’m just proud of my focus. I’m only able to do that If I’m focused and I thought in these playoffs, I’ve been focused. We only get one shot at this ad just want to give it my all every game. When I play with great focus, I think the sky’s the limit.”
Thompson’s third quarter propelled his night — and that of the Warriors — making the ultimate difference in a game where their opponent had nothing to lose but the entire season, and fought like it.
With two minutes to go, the Warriors had taken control but the margin was a thin four points, with the Blazers going punch for punch.
Curry’s smooth feet and infallible hands were coming alive after an otherwise quiet night that began with the reigning MVP receiving his second straight trophy from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The baby-faced assassin had seven points in the quarter, to that point, and Portland never had two bodies a single stride away from Curry.
Portland’s game plan was to clamp down on the scorers, leaving Iguodala to shoot. It worked.
As the Blazers pulled within two points on a trip to the free throw line by guard C.J. McCollum, the Warriors took a moment to breathe and draw up a play. The strategy of leaving Iguodala open also left an opportunity for Shawn Livingston, who replaced Harrison Barnes.
Portland adjusted, leaving an opening for Curry, who drained a 26-footer from straightaway to clinch the win with 25 seconds left and a five-point lead.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said:
“He makes big time shots. That last three he hit was well defended. He makes big time shots. And you saw that in Game 4. … He is great for basketball, and what he has one from a skill standpoint accentuates that basketball is a game of skill, and as an MVP, he’s gotten even better.”
Curry finished with 27 points, 11 assists, and four boards, after taking control of Game 4 and leading the Warriors to an overtime victory, while Green added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
And the Warriors advance to the Western Conference Finals, against either series-leading (3-2) Oklahoma City or San Antonio.
Center Andrew Bogut left the game in the first half with a right adductor strain and his status is uncertain, at this time, for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The adductor is in the groin and thigh area, and more information will become available in the coming days. … Green also sustained a tweaked ankle, though he managed to play through it. Green said:
“It’s a bit sore for sure. I went up and it was on the transition play where I got fouled but Crabbe. I went up, he kind of hit me, I lost balance a little bit and came down on the side of it. But it’s definitely something that’s been reoccurring a little bit. Same thing happened last year in the playoffs. I sprained it like the second round and got it almost every game after that.”
Green added that the impending layoff before the next series begins — at least five days, and as long as a week — will be beneficial despite the talk of potential rust or lethargy. He explained:
“Usually if it does, that lasts for a quarter, maybe a quarter and a half. It’s something you can bounce back from. But the rest, I think, goes much further than the rust.”