For the second straight year, the Golden State Warriors are headed to the Western Conference Finals. Writing that sentence made me smile.
In each of the first two playoff series, the Warriors won the first two games, lost the third, and won the next two, but the two rounds could not have been more different. Houston is an ugly city; Portland is not. The Rockets are an ugly team; the Blazers are beautiful. But they weren’t supposed to be. The Trailblazers were expected to be trash. In the off-season, they lost four of their five starters. This was going to be a rebuilding year where they could see what they have and get what they’re missing in the lottery. But the Blazers were having none of it and instead became one of the most exciting teams in this year’s NBA.
The Bay Area is already partial to the Blazers. Their talisman is Oakland’s own Damian Lillard, who, as a kid, hid after a Warriors game so that he could sneak onto the court and shoot threes. Now that he is the tip of the spear of a team that reminds us so much of the Warriors just a few years ago, it’s no wonder that for so many Warriors fans, the Blazers are our adopted second team. As so many teams have discovered over the course of this season, the key ingredient in successfully losing to the Warriors is trying to run with the Warriors. The Dubs love flying up and down the court the more possessions the Warriors get, the more ways the other team gets to lose. But the Blazers nearly ruined that lovely recipe by running and gunning and almost not losing. They played our game, and for long stretches, played it on their terms. The team that was expected to be nothing is now expected to be a great something. Good series, Portland. We wish you good fortune in the wars to come.
As for the Warriors, now they wait. The Oklahoma City Thunder have an unexpected, but not entirely surprising, 3-2 series lead over the San Antonio Spurs. They play tonight in OKC. Warriors fans will want the Spurs to win, forcing a Game 7 on Sunday. The less rest either team gets and the more rest the Warriors get, the better. And the Warriors will need it. In last night’s game, Andrew Bogut strained his right adductor. That’s something or another in his leg. Not good. Go Spurs, go!
Western Conference Semi-Finals
Golden State Warriors (1) v. Portland Trailblazers (5)
Warriors won series, 4-1
Sunday, May 1: Warriors WON (118-106)
Tuesday, May 3: Warriors WON (110-99)
Saturday, May 7: Warriors LOST (120-108)
Monday, May 9: Warriors WON (132-125)
Wednesday, May 11: Warriors WON (125-121)