EditorsNote: adds details, quotes
Historic individual performances already assured, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green went after something more important to them Monday night.
Curry and Green capped triple-double performances by combining on the game-clinching hoop in overtime as the Golden State Warriors completed a four-game sweep of the host Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals with a 119-117 victory.
The win vaults the Warriors into their fifth consecutive NBA Finals. They will await the Eastern Conference winner between Milwaukee and Toronto, with either the Bucks or Raptors holding the home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series that isn’t scheduled to start until May 30.
“We’ve been here before. We’ve seen everything,” Curry said of the two-time defending champs. “Yeah, we could have said that Game 5 was our game. But we saw how long that break is going to be, so we took advantage of it.”
After winning their 11th consecutive playoff series, Golden State joins the Boston Celtics (1957-66) as the only teams ever to reach five consecutive NBA Finals.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the run. “Five straight Finals hasn’t been done since the ‘60s, hasn’t been done for a reason. It’s very, very difficult.”
Playing without Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors led just 116-115 before Curry spotted Green open for a 3-pointer that pushed the Golden State lead to four with just 39.6 seconds remaining in overtime.
Damian Lillard got Portland within 119-117 with still 32.8 seconds to play with a driving hoop, and the Trail Blazers got the ball back after Curry missed at the other end.
However, Lillard had a shot blocked by Green, and after Portland got the ball out of bounds with 3.3 seconds left, Lillard misfired on a desperation 3-pointer, ending the Trail Blazers’ season.
“In the end, it’s a sweep, but this was a lot more difficult than it may have appeared,” said Kerr, whose team trailed in all four games, including by 15 or more points in each of the last three. No previous team had ever erased 15-point deficits in three consecutive playoff wins in NBA history.
“We’re happy to move on,” Kerr continued, “and happy to get some rest before we have to play again.”
Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in his first triple-double of this postseason. Green chipped in with his fourth triple-double of the first three rounds — 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists — as the Warriors won their sixth straight game overall and their 10th straight playoff game against Portland.
The triple-doubles were the first ever posted by teammates in an NBA playoff game.
“We have a bunch of guys committed to winning. We have one goal,” Green said. “Every year, no matter what bumps in the road we hit during the year, we always know where the end zone is.”
Thompson had 17 points, and Alfonzo McKinnie and Kevon Looney contributed 12 apiece for the Warriors, who won their 11th straight playoff series.
Meyers Leonard poured in a career-best 30 points, Lillard had 28 and CJ McCollum added 26 for the Trail Blazers, who had staved off elimination twice in their previous series against the Denver Nuggets.
Zach Collins had 10 points off the bench for Portland, which lost despite outscoring the Warriors 48-36 on 3-pointers.
“Hats off to Golden State. They’ve shown how great they are,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We played them three really good games and couldn’t get over the hump. It was more a demonstration of how good they are. They find ways to win.”
The Trail Blazers led 69-65 at halftime, then for the first time in the last three games were able to build upon it in the third quarter.
With McCollum scoring 11 points and Lillard nine, Portland went up by as many as 17 points late in the period at 95-78 on a jumper by Leonard. That hoop capped a 10-0 run.
But the Warriors chipped away, first by scoring the last nine points of the third quarter to close within 95-87, and then drawing even at 104-all on a layup by Curry with 4:34 to play.
The game was tied at 106 and 111 before the teams went the final 1:48 of regulation without scoring.
Each team had a late shot at a regulation win, but Curry traveled before nailing a 3-pointer with 10.7 seconds left, and Lillard couldn’t convert a drive in traffic in the final second.
“We put ourselves in a position to go to the Finals,” Lillard reminded everyone after the loss. “Every other team in the league wishes they could be in our shoes. We just ran up on a team that has been there the last four years.”
The Trail Blazers, who had double-digit leads at halftime in both Game 2 and Game 3, got the better of the first 24 minutes again, with Leonard contributing 25 points to a four-point lead.
The 25 points by Leonard already were more than he’d ever scored in a complete game, regular season or postseason. His previous career high was 24 at Oklahoma City in 2015.
—Field Level Media