Wow. Even for a series that was over before it even began, the Golden State Warriors were multitudes of echelons above the Portland Trailblazers in their four game sweep. Between every Stephen Curry shimmy, Draymond Green block and JaVale McGee throwdown lay some genuinely unanswerable basketball from the best roster in the league. While the Blazers did have some star individual play at times, they just couldn’t keep up, lacking in ability, experience and towards the end of the series, confidence. ‘Warriors romp Blazers’ was everyone’s prediction going into the series, but how did it happen? And what’s next in store?
The X-Factor: Draymond Green
Sure, we saw waves of Curry and Thompson brilliance, but the real MVP of the series was undoubtedly Draymond Green. He was one assist shy of a triple double in Game 1 (19-12-9 to go with 5 blocks and 3 steals), and never looked back from there. On the court, he was nothing short of a giant, buzzing mosquito; absolutely everywhere, at any given moment. He provided constant DPOY-worthy lockdown defence on the Blazers’ dazzling backcourt, along with helping out comfortably on the other end. Everything seemed to click on offence, from his shooting (how about a 3 point clip of 0.550?) to some brilliant passing.
What made Green the X-Factor of this series was not just his basketball. He took it upon himself to recognise the potential danger of the Blazers. Through trash talk, encouragement and throwing himself with zest into every single possession, he got the job done smoothly. Sure, Curry at times looked like he could hit a shot from outside the arena, and Durant (when he played) look unstoppable. But before, during and after each game, it was Draymond Green who continuously sucked the life out of the Blazers. He’s a player one either loves or hates, but it would be a foolish move not to respect his game.
The Bench Units
In terms of sheer experience, when the starters for each team sat, the disparity between the second units became all-the-more apparent. On one side was Shabazz Napier, Allen Crabbe and Al-Farouq Aminu. On the other were players like Andre Iguodala, David West and JaVale McGee.
Iguodala alone has had more postseason appearances than the Blazers roster combined. They knew exactly how to handle the situations they were put in, almost nullifying the absence of Steve Kerr. At times like this, Terry Stotts was not left with much option but to bring back in his starters, tiring them as the games progressed. The Warriors bench outscored the Blazers bench in all major categories in the series – the easiest way to outline their superiority.
Portland’s Lonely Backcourt
Throughout the series, Portland needed both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum firing on all cylinders to stand a chance. Of the four games, the Blazers got blown out twice. During the second game, a 29-point Warriors victory, Lillard could only manage 12 points. During the fourth game, a 25-point Warriors victory, McCollum could manage only only 6 points. However, in the remaining games, where they together averaged 69 points a night, the scorelines were much closer.
Playing without Nurkic meant that someone else had to step up to be the Blazers’ next option, but no one did. So when either Dame or C.J. couldn’t find their rhythm, it was game over. This series was a big opportunity for some of the team’s young talent to put themselves out there, but ended up going in a different direction.
The Warriors now await the winner of the Jazz-Clippers series. Seeing as they’ve won 10 in a row against LA and 13 of their last 15 against Utah, it’s hard to imagine any kind of situation where they’re worried. There isn’t a matchup for them to be afraid of, such is their strength and depth at virtually every position.
We’re on a crash course for a three peat of finales. The Warriors and Cavaliers don’t look like losing right now. It’s time to get set for the most epic battle of their newly ingrained rivalry.
The Blazers on the other hand enter the offseason with plenty of decisions to make. They have no upcoming free agents, three picks in the upcoming NBA draft and a ton of trade-able role players. The team is in dire need of change, if not a facelift. For Portland to regain their status as a top four team in the west, they’re going to need some serious work done this summer.
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 19: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)