Three games into the Western Conference finals and the Portland Trail Blazers are quickly realizing why the Warriors have won three of the last four NBA championships. Even without Kevin Durant, the Warriors have been rolling, taking a quick 3-0 lead, including a 110-99 win in Portland in Game 3 on Saturday. In that game, Draymond Green played a huge role in the Warriors’ success with a triple-double featuring 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. He also had four steals in the win. Now, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum must regroup for a do-or-die Game 4 on Monday from the Moda Center. Tipoff for this one is scheduled for 9 pm ET.
In the matchup, the Golden State Warriors come in as 4-point favorites despite playing on the road. The over/under for this game is set at 220 points.
By The Numbers
Both of these teams have played the same number of games in the playoffs thus far at 15 and had identical records coming into this series. At 11-4 in the playoffs, the Warriors have the second-best winning percentage (.733) while the Trail Blazers come in at seventh (.533) of any playoff team.
In terms of offensive rating, which evaluates points scored per 100 possessions while also taking into account the opponent’s defense, the Warriors have been better than any team in the playoffs. They currently have an offensive rating of 117.9. Once again, the Trail Blazers come in seventh of all teams that were in the playoffs (third of teams remaining) with an offensive rating of 110.6.
For defensive rating, which evaluates points given up per 100 possessions while taking into account the opponent’s offense, the Warriors come in eighth of all playoff teams (third amongst those remaining) with a defensive rating of 110.8. The Trail Blazers come in 10th (last among the remaining four) with a defensive rating of 112.
Warriors Trying To End It Early
The best-case scenario for the Golden State Warriors is to hope to end this series on Monday night and then hope that the Eastern Conference Finals go deep in terms of games played. The kicker of having so many championship runs as of late is that their core players have accumulated lots of extra games and minutes over the last several years. The opportunity for more rest, and more time for recovery for players like Kevin Durant, could be key when heading into the NBA Finals.
It speaks volumes to the depth and talent of this roster that they can lose the leading scorer in the playoffs and not skip a beat. Without Durant and his 34.2 points per game, players like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have certainly stepped up in his absence.
For the playoffs, Curry is averaging 26.7 points on 45.3% shooting, including 38.5% from behind the three. He is also chipping in 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Klay Thompson is averaging 19.2 points on 43.7% shooting (40.2% from three) as well as 3.7 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Lastly, Draymond Green is averaging 13.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Throw in players like Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, and Shaun Livingston, and they are a tough matchup for most any team.
Trail Blazers Hope For Improbable Comeback
Being down 3-0 to the defending champions is never a good place to be in, and while it is unlikely, the Trail Blazers have to hope that their offense can step up to make this a series again. Given that their defense has struggled to contain Golden State, any chances of a comeback will likely fall squarely on the shoulders of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. It is not to say they haven’t played well thus far.
During the playoffs, Lillard is averaging 26.8 points on 41.5% shooting. He is also chipping in 4.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. McCollum comes in just behind him, averaging 24.6 points on 43.9% shooting as well as 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. As good as this is, though, they still need to pick it up to run with the Warriors.
Other notable performances this postseason have included Enes Kanter (11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds), Rodney Hood (10.1 points, 2.3 rebounds), Maurice Harkless (8.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals) and Al-Farouq Aminu (7.9 points, 6.6 rebounds).
Warriors Move Onto The Finals
Coming into this series, I was predicting the Warriors in five games. While that prediction could still come true, I am not sure if I trust the Trail Blazers to pull one out anymore. I had expected their one win to come in Game 3, anticipating that they would leave it all on the line and would use the energy of the home crowd to put up an offensive barrage. After laying a dud Saturday, when they didn’t even break the 100-point barrier, I am no longer sure they can even take one in this series.
Even without Durant, the experience and skill of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is just too much for the Trail Blazers. For my money, I see the Warriors turning it up and closing it out early so they can sit back and rest for the NBA Finals. I am taking the Warriors at -4.