OAKLAND — The big-little brother dynamic is alive and well in the Portland-Golden State rivalry.
All the hallmarks of a backyard brawl on display in the series: High scoring contests, chippy and emotionally charged moments, and a predictable outcome.
That is, the big brother usually wins.
Such was the case Wednesday when the Golden State Warriors advanced to the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers with a sloppy 125-121 win at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors withstood every punch Portland had. The visitors led for most of the game, but like Game 2, the Dubs prevailed in the fourth quarter. Unlike Game 2, it took a Stephen Curry 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining to seal the game and series.
“That’s probably a shot only he can make,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “We got a gutty effort from a lot of guys. It wasn’t our best stuff.”
The Warriors played poorly given their extraordinarily high standards. They gave up open looks (Portland shot 44 percent from behind the arc), they turned the ball over (three players had four giveaways each), and they made mental errors (Klay Thompson fouled Damian Lillard as he shot a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to extend the visitors’ chances.)
Ultimately, none of that mattered.
“We made some mistakes that stopped us from extending our lead,” Kerr admitted. “… It wasn’t perfect but we got it done.”
Golden State started with an unfocused opening period. Despite falling behind — trailing at halftime for their fourth-straight tilt — the Warriors never panicked, confident in their ability to overcome any deficit.
Portland struggled to land the knockout punch despite holding leads in four of the five games.
“Obviously [the Warriors are] the better team,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t walk away from this thinking, ‘we should’ve won the series or we should’ve won those games.’ I come away thinking, ‘we could’ve won those games.’ Going forward, we’ll learn from that.”
The Warriors entered the series with no interest in moral victories.
For the Blazers, expectations were vastly different: Few expected them to make the playoffs after losing four starters in the offseason.
“There is no question I can appreciate this season,” Stotts said. “This was a remarkable season. I’ve been in the league coaching for 23 years. It was a special year. We had all young guys who got better.”
So, the Warriors move on to play a more seasoned opponent in either the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Blazers, on the other hand, will go home and continue to develop in the offseason.
“They’ve got a lot of good young players,” Kerr said. “I know they’re well-stocked in terms of not only their current talent, but cap room. So they have the potential to get even better.”
There’s no shame in being the younger brother to Golden State. Portland played admirably and defied the odds to get to this point. But in this series, it didn’t much matter how hard the ’Zers fought. The Warriors always had an answer.
But big brother beware: At some point little brother grows up, and the punches start to hurt.cj mccollumDamian LillardDraymond GreenGolden State Warriorsjacob c. palmerKlay ThompsonNBANBA PlayoffsPortland Trail BlazersStephen CurrySteve Kerrterry stotts