PORTLAND, Ore. — The Western Conference finals opened with gooey talk of an unprecedented sibling rivalry: Stephen and Seth Curry were the first pair of brothers to face off at this stage of the NBA playoffs. Their parents famously donned split jerseys and shirts — half Golden State Warriors, half Portland Trail Blazers — to display their double allegiances.
The series ended Monday with big brother tormenting the Blazers like he has so many times before. Stephen Curry, the two-time MVP, was too skilled, too self-assured, and too ruthless, posting a 37-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double to lead the Warriors to a 119-117 road win in overtime.
By completing a clean sweep with the Game 4 victory, Golden State became the first team to win the Western Conference in five straight years and the first team since the Boston Celtics (1957-1966) to reach five straight NBA Finals. The Warriors eliminated the Blazers for the third time in the past four years, compiling a 12-1 record in those series.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said of the Finals streak. “It hasn’t been done for a reason. It’s really, really difficult. I can’t say enough about the competitive desire of the players we have here and the culture they’ve built together.”
As has become their custom, the Warriors didn’t just beat the Blazers — they toyed with them before finally dismantling them. Kerr played 12 players in the first half — a rare sight in a closeout game on the road — despite regulars Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala missing the game because of injuries. Golden State coasted through Portland’s defense for layups and dunks, content to trade baskets in the early going before launching another signature second-half comeback and slamming the door in overtime.
Curry, sensing that the overmatched and injury-riddled Blazers were wheezing to the finish, hit five three-pointers and scored 25 points in the first half. As the Moda Center crowd cheered a second-quarter three by Portland center Meyers Leonard, who finished with a career-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, Curry came straight down the court to answer with a three of his own. He then brought his finger to his mouth in a shushing motion, before signaling with both hands for the crowd to return to its seats.
“The situation called for more aggressiveness,” Curry said. “We don’t take anything for granted. There’s a hunger about us. We take pride in how we play.”
The hot-shooting Blazers, who made 16 three-pointers, led by 17 points late in the third quarter and by nine points early in the fourth. Yet Curry and the Warriors kept chipping away, raising the anxiety in the building possession by possession.
“We know we can cover 17 points in a matter of three or four minutes,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We’re never out of the game. We knew if we were going to win this game we had a make a stand defensively and that’s what championship basketball is all about.”
Portland fans watched in silent agony as Curry tied the game with 4:34 remaining and Green gave Golden State its first lead of the second half with a jumper a minute later. Golden State outscored Portland 24-16 in the fourth quarter and 8-6 in overtime, with Curry never leaving the court after halftime.
Green, who finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, hit a three-pointer and got a key stop on Blazers guard Damian Lillard in the final minute of overtime. After the three, just his second of the series, gave the Warriors a four-point lead with 39.6 seconds left, he barked gleefully at Portland’s bench.
“That’s what he does,” Kerr said. “He hits big shots. Draymond is just a big-game player. Steph trusted him [with the pass], and that was obviously the shot of the game.”
Lillard, limited by a separated rib, scored 28 points but missed two potential game-winners: His running hook shot rimmed out in agonizing fashion at the end of regulation, and a rushed corner three came up short in overtime. CJ McCollum scored 26 points but went scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“Right now, it kind of stings,” Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said.
Now the wait is on for the champs, who improved to 5-0 since Durant was lost to a calf strain in the second round. After cruising through the Western Conference with a 12-4 record, the Warriors will enjoy nine off days before taking the court for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors. The Bucks lead the Raptors 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals with Game 4 on Tuesday
“Careers aren’t that long,” said Green, who joined Curry as the first pair of teammates to record a triple-double in the same playoff game. “If you can get 10 years out of it, you’re lucky. To get to five straight Finals is special [but] we’re trying to win this thing. I’ve been to a Finals and lost, and it’s no fun.”
Curry enters the Finals riding a wave of positive momentum, having scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games. Against Portland, he did it all, racing around screens, thwarting double teams, pulling up from 30 feet and coasting in for reverse layups. After a well-earned respite, the three-time champ will turn his attention to acquiring the only jewel missing from his trophy case: a Finals MVP award.
“Five straight Finals is kind of crazy to think about,” Curry said. “Four more wins defines your season. Four more wins and we get back to celebrating.”