Dubs Lead

Warriors Ready to Begin 5th Straight Conference Finals

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The Golden State Warriors are right where they planned to be when this season started. This will be their fifth straight Western Conference Finals appearance, playing a new WCF opponent in the Portland Trail Blazers. They met Portland in back-to-back postseasons in 2016 and 2017, but not this late in the season. These two teams always play a fun style of basketball– a welcoming relief for the Dubs after grinding out their “conference rival” in the Houston Rockets.

Dubs Destroy Narratives

Championship teams don’t follow narratives; they create them. The Warriors defeated the Rockets in the Western semis in just six games. In doing so, not only did they end the Rockets’ season, they also obliterated a whole bunch of narratives circling the team.

Many of the following Warriors-Rockets narratives have bothered the Dubs since last year:

“Rockets would have won the 2018 series if Chris Paul was healthy in games six and seven.”

“Warriors always get the lucky breaks when it comes to health and injuries.”

“Referees helped the Warriors win last year.”

“Warriors can’t beat the Rockets without Kevin Durant.”

“Steph Curry is not clutch.”

Dubs systematically destroyed these narratives over a five-quarter stretch across Games 5 and 6 once Kevin Durant left with his calf injury in Game 5. That injury was supposed to change the course of the series, as it felt eerily similar to Chris Paul’s injury in Game 5 last year. But the similarity ended there because, unlike the Rockets, the Warriors did not lose a game after the injury. They won Game 5 against all odds and refused to concede anything in Game 6 on the road either. Dubs basically destroyed the injury argument lingering from last year’s matchup in more ways than one.

Clutch Curry

The Dubs emerged victorious with the help of Stephen Curry dominating the fourth quarter in both Games 5 and 6. This came out of nowhere after Steph had downright horrific first halves in both games. In Game 5, he just turned on the switch the moment Durant left the game. He was surprisingly bottled up in the first half of Game 6, but Klay Thompson and the Dubs bench kept the game close. Curry then exploded in the fourth quarter with 23 points and punctuated the series with several clutch buckets.

For a team and fan-base with three recent championships, this was surprisingly a very satisfying early round victory. That tells you all you need to know about how much the Rockets and Dubs dislike and respect each other. That Game 6 victory has now been ranked as one of their best in this five-year run, seceding only to the “Klay game” against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016.

Will there be a Letdown?

Given the emotional series against the Rockets, the Dubs may be vulnerable in game one of the WCF. This reminds me of the J.R. Smith game last year in Game 1 of the finals after the Dubs’ grueling series against the 2018 Rockets. LeBron came into Oracle and had an amazing game. That was Cleveland’s best chance to steal one and make it a series. The Blazers may have a similar chance Tuesday night– beating the champs when they are a little happy, distracted and complacent. However, Portland has two challenges. One, not having KD means the Dubs will be more focused and connected. Two, the Blazers may have some emotional hangover themselves after their epic seven game series against the Denver Nuggets.

Family Affair

Regardless of what the result ends up being, this promises to be a fun series. These two teams play a pleasing style of basketball unlike the Rockets. The backcourt matchup should be a delight given how good CJ McCollum has been the last few games. This series feels like a family affair due to two reasons. First, Steph and Seth Curry will be duking it out– that’s some real Curry family drama right there! Secondly, Damian Lillard is from Oakland and Dubs fans have always had a soft corner for the home-town boy.

I am sure the series will become heated soon. But at least the start promises to lack the bad-blood that the Rockets and the Warriors had for each other in the previous round. The stakes are high, and the quality of these offenses will be even higher. This will be a fun series with some fireworks from Dame and Curry. If/when KD rejoins the series, it might shift decidedly in favor of the Warriors. Until then, we may see some very close and competitive high-scoring games.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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