The Golden State Warriors’ season has not been a straight line. They have coped with injuries, behind-the-scenes squabbles, fatigue and even complacency. But they are still a basketball superpower, and they are imposing their will this postseason with another majestic romp past overmatched opponents.
On Monday night, the Warriors clinched a fifth straight trip to the N.B.A. finals by completing a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. With their 119-117 overtime victory at the Moda Center, the Warriors also preserved their hopes of a third straight championship and their fourth in five seasons.
The only other team to reach five straight N.B.A. finals was the Boston Celtics, when they went to a record 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966 (and won nine titles, eight consecutively). The Los Angeles Lakers were the last team to three-peat as champions, from 2000 to 2002.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “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 finished 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.
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.
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Source: The New York Times