The Warriors needed overtime to complete their comeback but they finished a sweep of the Trail Blazers with a Game 4 win.
The Blazers dared Draymond Green to shoot. He did, and ended their season. The Blazers had swarmed the Warriors on a crucial possession with under a minute left in overtime. They trapped Stephen Curry at the elbow with five seconds left on the shot clock. Curry passed it to Green, who calmly stepped into a wide-open 3-pointer and put the Warriors up by four points.
Damian Lillard made a layup to cut the lead to two but came up empty on his next two chances — a layup attempt that drew contact but not a foul, and a fallaway 3-point attempt in the corner at the buzzer. The Warriors just seemed to raise the degree of difficulty in each game, weathering increasingly vigorous challenges from the Trail Blazers and playing Game 4 without the injured Andre Iguodala. Nothing seemed to faze them and now they’re headed for their fifth consecutive NBA Finals.
Meyers Leonard might have changed the course of his career? Leonard was 10th on the Blazers in minutes played this season, edging out Enes Kanter only because he was acquired mid-season. With the emergence of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic’s strong regular season, it was hard to see how Leonard would even get a chance to work his way back into their rotation. With Kanter struggling mightily, Leonard got the opportunity and responded with 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists over the past two games, making 8-of-15 3-pointers. It was a situational opportunity but you have to commend him for seizing it. This could be a performance that forces Terry Stotts to figure out how to make room for him next year, despite everything they have invested in Nurkic and Collins. Or it could the kind of performance the convinces another team to try and trade for him this summer and give him a bigger role. Or this could just be his Bismack Biyombo moment.
Draymond Green is on one right now. Following that clutch 3-pointer, Green switched onto Lillard and smothered him on the perimeter, forcing him to drive into traffic for a layup that was blocked and went out of bounds, setting up an impossibly difficult game-winning opportunity for Lillard with 2.5 seconds left. Green’s defense and energy has been absolutely incredible throughout this series and he came up just short of averaging a triple-double in the four games against Portland. He looks like a different player since Kevin Durant went out and it’s driving everything that’s working for Golden State.
The Finals are going to be so damn good. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who advances out of the East. The Warriors are primed, even if Durant can’t return. The chemistry and flow between Green, Curry and Thompson are more than enough to win them a title, especially with role players like Alfonzo McKinnie and Kevan Looney making big contributions. And to do it, they’ll have to get through either the Bucks or Raptors, two worthy challenges who have proven they have what it takes to push the Warriors and do it in an entirely different way than LeBron’s Cavaliers did the past four seasons. Let’s go!