By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
PORTLAND — All five starters scored in double figures led by Stephen Curry’s game-high 37 points as the Golden State Warriors completed a four-game sweep to advance to the conference semifinals by dismantling the Trail Blazers with a 128-103 victory Monday night.
The Warriors improve to 12-1 in the first round over the past three postseasons, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
This is the third four-game sweep in franchise history for Golden State. The Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the 1975 NBA Finals, and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2015 en route to the championship that season.
Even without head coach Steve Kerr, who is away from the team to deal with lingering affects from back surgery in 2015, and assistant coach Mike Brown moving into Kerr’s chair for the second straight game (and for the foreseeable future), the Warriors played the brand of basketball that has become must-see-television for the past three seasons under Kerr in Game 4.
Curry shot 12-of-20 from the field, including 7-of-11 on 3s to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.
Draymond Green added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 33 minutes. Green, who by all accounts is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, leads all players with 4.7 blocks per game in the playoffs.
Klay Thompson, who struggled for most of the series shooting 37-percent from the field and 35-percent on 3s, bounced back in the clincher with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 on 3s) in 30 minutes.
Kevin Durant returned back in the starting lineup, adding 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes.
Durant was sidelined in both Games 2 and 3 with a strained left calf, showed no signs of the injury whenever he drove the ball to the basket as evident of his dunk that increased Golden State’s lead to 22-3 at one point.
Golden State’s hot three-point shooting was in true form in Game 4, as the team knocked down 17-of-29 (58.6-perecent) from beyond the arc. The team had 27 assists (with 10 turnovers) on 46 made baskets (53.5-percent) from the floor, while holding a 45-39 edge on the boards.
The Warriors jumped out early on the Trail Blazers, scoring 45 points in the first quarter tying an NBA record for most points in a single quarter (Portland had 22 at the end of the first quarter). The Houston Rockets scored 45 points against Golden State on May 25, 2015 in Game 4 of their best-of-seven conference semifinals, per ESPN Stats and Information.
Portland was hit with a massive uppercut by the Warriors in the first quarter that they never recovered from the rest of the game.
Golden State started off hot in the first quarter, going on a 14-0 run before Portland scored their first basket, a three-pointer by Evan Turner. Golden State shot 15-of-18 in the first quarter and led as much as 33 points in the game.
By halftime, the game was never in doubt when Golden State was leading 72-48.
But Portland’s season really came to an end when Curry drained a rainbow three-pointer from 31-feet that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 104-77 late in the third quarter that sucked the final breath out of the Trail Blazers.
Damian Lillard, Oakland’s native son, tried to will Portland as he’s done for most of the season, led the Trail Blazers with 34 points on 12-of-24 shooting to go along with six assists. Lillard was given a standing ovation by the remainder of the Moda Center crowd when he left the floor at the 6:12 mark in the fourth quarter.
Al-Farouq Aminu finished with 25 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes and Shabazz Napier scored 14 points off the bench for the Trail Blazers, who just completed their fourth-straight playoff appearance under head coach Terry Stotts.
Per ESPN Stats and Information, this is the first time since 1999 that the Trail Blazers have been swept in a best-of-seven series when they lost to the San Antonio Spurs, who went on to win their first NBA championship in franchise history after the NBA players’ lockout shorten the season to 50 games.
The real dud of the night was the performance of shooting guard, C.J. McCollum in the biggest game of the season for Portland which was real head scratching to watch.
After averaging 28.0 points per game in the series, McCollum was nowhere to be found in as he couldn’t buy a basket for most of the game.
McCollum started the first half shooting 0-of-7 from the floor.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, that was McCollum’s second scoreless first half of the season. McCollum finished the game 2-of-12 from the floor for just six points.
With the Jazz-Clippers series tied at 2-2, Golden State won’t play another game until this weekend which will give the team a chance to rest. Getting players like Shawn Livingston (right index finger sprain) and Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain) additional rest will be key for Golden State.
Livingston hasn’t played since Game 1, while Barnes hasn’t been available for the entire series.