PORTLAND, Ore., – The Golden State Warriors will go for their second Western Conference finals sweep in the last three seasons Monday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers for Game 4 in the best-of-seven series.
Having become the first squad in NBA history to rally from at least a 13-point deficit in consecutive playoff wins, the Warriors find themselves one victory away from a fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
It appears Golden State will take its first shot at the series-clinching win without Andre Iguodala, who experienced pain in his left Achilles during Saturday’s 110-99 win in Portland.
The veteran got good news on an MRI exam performed Sunday, yet was still listed as no better than “questionable” for Game 4.
Already without Kevin Durant (calf) and DeMarcus Cousins (quadriceps), the Warriors got big performances from their three remaining All-Stars and significant contributions from several others as they brushed aside an 18-point, second-quarter deficit and won 110-99 on Saturday night.
“Over the course of the regular season, we talked about (how) everybody was going to have an opportunity to win a championship,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry noted to reporters Sunday. “This series has been a true testament to that.”
Curry had a game-high 36 points, Draymond Green recorded a triple-double and Klay Thompson spearheaded the Golden State defense on Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard in the road win that gave the Warriors at least one in an NBA-record 22 consecutive series.
The Warriors surely were more than three-deep in contributing players in Game 3. Alfonzo McKinnie came off the bench to hit his only 3-pointer for a third consecutive game, Kevon Looney dropped in four of his five shots and Jordan Bell overcame the embarrassment of a missed dunk to shoot 3-for-5 for the Warriors, with the trio combining for a plus-46 plus/minus in difference-making performances.
Meanwhile, Portland’s predicament went from bad to worse on Sunday when Lillard confirmed a rib injury that had resulted from a collision with Looney as both went to the floor for a loose ball in Game 2 on Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s something that’s affecting my game,” Lillard insisted to reporters Sunday. “It’s there … Obviously you feel it, but that’s it.”
Like most Trail Blazers, Lillard has been most ineffective in third quarters in the series. He’s shot just 3-for-14 overall and 1-for-4 on 3-pointers in the three third periods, during which the Trail Blazers have been outscored 91-63.
Lillard, an Oakland native who would like nothing better than to get one more homecoming before the Warriors move to San Francisco next season, has been outscored 109-61 by Curry in the series.
Portland went 2-0 in potential elimination games in their seven-game triumph over Denver in the Western semifinals. But the Trail Blazers have a taller task in the Western finals, facing a Warriors team that has won five in a row in these playoffs and has beaten them nine straight times in the postseason.
The Warriors have gone 17-7 in potential close-out games in the Steve Kerr era, including 5-3 in Game 4 when up 3-0 in the series.
Golden State swept Portland in the first round in 2017.
–Dave Del Grande, Field Level Media