That Blazers-Warriors series was drunk
What the hell did we just watch?
The 2019 Western Conference Finals were a ruse. The back-to-back champion Warriors trailed by 17 points or more in three different games against the Portland Trail Blazers and won them all. Even without two All-Stars (Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins) for two of those games and an additional legendary bench player (Andre Iguodala) in the final one, Golden State figured it out. None of those games really looked in doubt, either.
This was supposed to be a final tune-up before the Finals. What a farce.
At times, it felt like Steve Kerr was making a mockery out of the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Jones, who tore his pectoral muscle in December and missed the rest of the regular- and post-season until this series, started in Game 3. Jacob Evans, a rookie who averaged seven minutes per game in 30 games during the regular season, got run in the first half of Game 4. Three of the four games in this series were close on the scoreboard, but Golden State never seemed to notice until the final minutes. It was all inevitable anyway.
On the Warriors’ journey to five consecutive trips to the Finals, this was themost bizarre stop. Golden State was depleted, yet in firm control. They were getting blown out, yet had no chance of losing. They played the alleged second-best team in the west, but hardly worried. The Blazers were thoroughly embarrassed, yet earned praise around the league for getting this far — and deserved it. This entire week was confounding.
The Warriors are making us think in another stratosphere. Steph Curry averaged 37 points over the four games on 47 percent shooting, including 43 percent from three-point range, where he sunk 26-of-61 tries. He dished eight rebounds with seven assists, too. Those are scorched-Earth numbers.
But he was hardly the story. Instead, Draymond Green reclaimed his leadership throne with so much talent missing, and ran the club to perfection. He was the talk of every game. Green was the speed-boost off every opponent-made shot, and the catalyst behind every comeback. He looked nothing like the lackadaisical version of himself we saw during the regular season.
That minor rebrand pales in comparison to the even stranger one in which Green went from the guy who called KD a “b-tch” at the end of a close game to the guy who became the poster boy of apologies after cameras caught him telling Jordan Bell it was ok to miss an open dunk.
Draymond talking to Jordan Bell is good stuff pic.twitter.com/F3AGvm3MFW— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 19, 2019
On Portland’s side, things were just as off, too. Damian Lillard, who was the early-round hero of the playoffs, disappeared in this series after separating a rib in Game 2. C.J. McCollum lost his touch, too. With the the co-stars misfiring, Portland survived thanks to [checks notes] Meyers Leonard, who set a career-high (for both his college and NBA career) with 25 points in the first half of Game 4. The guy who didn’t play despite being fully healthy in Game 1 finished with 30 points.
Steph Curry vs. Meyers Leonard: the three-point shooting duel we were promised in the Western Conference Finals pic.twitter.com/t6TCRVdK6K— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) May 21, 2019
This entire four-game series was drunk.
But the ludicrousness of the Warriors-Blazers series wasn’t complete without one final stunt. That came with a tie score in Game 4 and mere seconds on the clock in regulation. After rebounding his own missed layup attempt, Curry recovered the ball and then DOUBLE step-backed to the three-point line — just like the way he mimicked James Harden in jest earlier this season -— and was whistled for a travel.
Steph still doesn't know how to do the James Harden stepback correctly pic.twitter.com/rpMfNjq2iy— gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 21, 2019
The best shooter of all time really messed around in crunch time and got busted. And the Warriors still won.
Sayonara, Western Conference Finals. You’ll go down as a weird one.