The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year, and everyone should be surprised with how easily they got there. The Warriors looked like a shell of themselves at times during the regular season, but they were able to flip a switch once the playoffs began. Golden State has had plenty of highs throughout this playoff run, but there have also been a few disappointing moments. Let’s take a look back at the first three playoff series for the Warriors and recap how Golden State has once again punched its ticket to the NBA Finals.
Golden State Beats Chippy Clippers Team
The Warriors came into the playoffs with the top seed in the Western Conference, which put them up against the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers. Los Angeles played the Warriors tight throughout the regular season, and they gave them a real test in the first-round series.
The Clippers registered the largest comeback in playoff history in Game 2, earning an impressive 135-131 victory to even the series. Golden State responded by winning the next two games, but Los Angeles was able to keep their season alive with a road win in Game 5.
Kevin Durant put up a 50-point performance in Game 6 to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers and end the extremely high-scoring series. This series was costly for Golden State, though, as center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a quad injury in Game 2. He has yet to make his way back into the lineup. Cousins averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game during the regular season, and the Warriors might need him to win the title.
Warriors Eliminate Rockets Without Durant
The Western Conference semifinals brought a rematch with James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Golden State eliminated the Rockets a season ago with a Game 7 victory in Houston, so Harden and company were out for revenge.
The Warriors got off to a good start at Oracle Arena, winning the first two games of the series by a combined 10 points. Houston got itself back into the series by winning Games 3 and 4 back at home. The Warriors seemed to be dealt a huge blow in their Game 5 win when Kevin Durant went down with an injury in the third quarter. Durant was averaging 34 points per game before the injury, and most experts thought that this would give the Rockets the edge in Game 6.
Houston jumped out to a big halftime lead in Game 6, but then Stephen Curry woke up. The former NBA MVP poured in 33 points — all in the second half — to carry the Warriors to a series win over the Houston Rockets. Golden State was now back in the Western Conference finals but would be without two starters.
“Old” Warriors Sweep Hot Blazers Team
The Portland Trail Blazers were the next team to stand in the Warriors’ way, but they didn’t put up as much fight as the first two opponents. Portland advanced by defeating the Denver Nuggets in a thrilling seven-game series, and it looked like they just ran out of gas.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green also stepped up their games in a big way in this series, carrying the Warriors offense in the last two games. Portland did hold leads of at least 15 points in each of the last three games, but they blew the lead every single time.
Draymond Green recorded triple-doubles in each of the last two games, and Curry was an absolute monster. Curry averaged 36.5 points per game in this series, which is the most ever recorded by a player in a sweep. Golden State proved that they still have enough talent, even without Kevin Durant, and will be heavy favorites moving into the NBA Finals.