PORTLAND, Ore. — The Golden State Warriors’ season has not been a straight line. They have coped with accidents, behind-the-scenes squabbles, fatigue and even complacency. But they’re nonetheless a basketball superpower, and they’re imposing their will this postseason with one other majestic romp previous overmatched opponents.
On Monday evening, the Warriors clinched a fifth straight journey to the N.B.A. finals by finishing a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers within the Western Conference finals. With their 119-117 time beyond regulation victory on the Moda Center, the Warriors additionally preserved their hopes of a 3rd straight championship and their fourth in 5 seasons.
The solely different group to attain 5 straight N.B.A. finals was the Boston Celtics, once they went to a report 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966 (and gained 9 titles, eight consecutively). The Los Angeles Lakers have been the final group to three-peat as champions, from 2000 to 2002.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr stated. “Five straight finals hasn’t been done since the ’60s, since Bill Russell’s Celtics. And it hasn’t been done for a reason: It’s really, really difficult.”
Led by Stephen Curry, who completed with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, Golden State had to mount a huge comeback to get past Portland in Game 4. The Blazers were ahead by as many as 17 points in the third quarter before the Warriors whittled away the deficit.
“We’re never out of the fight,” the Warriors’ Draymond Green said.
After Klay Thompson tied the game on a 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes left in regulation, the Warriors forced overtime when Portland’s Damian Lillard missed a running layup. In overtime, the Warriors’ Alfonzo McKinnie scored on a putback for a 116-115 lead, then Green built on the lead with a 3-pointer. Portland still had a chance to go ahead in the final seconds, but Lillard’s drifting 3-pointer came up short as time expired.
[Damian Lillard fought his way through triple-teams and a rib injury, but he could not find a way to push Portland to victory.]
Green had his second straight triple-double, collecting 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He helped make a little history, too, as he and Curry became the first N.B.A. teammates to have triple-doubles in the same postseason game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Meyers Leonard, Portland’s starting center, scored 25 of his career-high 30 points in the first half, while Lillard finished with 28 points and 12 assists.
The Warriors will await the winner of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have a two-games-to-one lead in that series, with Game 4 set for Tuesday night in Toronto. The finals are scheduled to start May 30, and the Warriors plan to use their week-and-a-half break — a rare luxury — to recharge.
“I feel a much different vibe with our team now than I did five years ago, when this was all brand new,” Kerr said before Monday’s game. “Back then, it seemed like we had plenty of games where everybody looked scattered and nervous, and we had to figure it out. It seems like these days we’re more composed and more confident because we’ve been doing it for a long time, and we’ve seen pretty much every situation.”
The Warriors eliminated the Blazers despite not having their All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who injured his right calf in the conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Durant, who is expected to be re-evaluated later this week, had been dominating defenders in the playoffs, averaging a team-leading 34.2 points a game. There is no timetable for his return.
For Game 4, the Warriors were also missing Andre Iguodala, the invaluable sixth man who moved into the starting lineup for nine straight games before a sore left calf kept him out of the series clincher.
In Durant’s absence, the Warriors have been leaning more on ball movement while welcoming increased scoring from Curry, who eviscerated every defender the Blazers sent his way. In the series, Curry averaged 36.5 points while shooting 46.9 percent from the field.
The Blazers were trying to reach the N.B.A. finals for the first time since 1992. But Lillard, their All-Star point guard, struggled throughout the series and was hobbled for much of it by separated ribs. Lillard sustained the injury in Game 2, when the Warriors’ Kevon Looney accidentally pounced on his back while pursuing a loose ball.
In many ways, though, the result was depressingly familiar for the Blazers, whom the Warriors eliminated from the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
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