Zaza Pachulia shows fans at the Moda Center how many points Stephen Curry's made shot was worth. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

Warriors leave no room for doubt, sweep Blazers

Dubs blitz Blazers, cruise to some well-deserved time off

PORTLAND, Ore. — Stephen Curry sends the same message to his 8.8 million Twitter followers before nearly every game: “Lock in.”

In an elimination game on Monday night, he and his Golden State Warriors teammates showed the world what that phrase really means.

“We had an opportunity to close the series out, you don’t want to let go of the rope or give the other team any kind of confidence of momentum,” Curry explained the team’s sense of urgency. “I think the way we showed up in the first quarter said a lot about our mindset and focus. We’ve got to keep that up and understand the way that we played tonight on both ends of the floor is a great recipe for success.”

There was remarkably less buzz in the Moda Center before Game 4 than contest before. (Going without a beloved big man in Jusuf Nurkic, who promises to be a mainstay for the franchise, will tend to have that effect.) And the home team reflected that energy in the first quarter when it allowed the Warriors to set a new franchise record for most points scored in a quarter of a playoff game (45).

At one point in the opening period, they led by 28 points.

It was just the start of a night defined by Golden State flexing its considerable muscle. Few teams can score 72 points in a half by shooting the long ball at a staggering 63 percent on 19 attempts. Even fewer can hold their opponent to 38 percent shooting on their home floor.

“I wish I could say this one thing or that one thing was really good, but everything we tried to do, we tried to do at a high level. And it worked,” acting head coach Mike Brown said, expressing a near disbelief at how good the team he inherited really is.

It was Curry — again — to bury the dagger. But instead of dropping it with less than a minute remaining in the game, it came with 30 seconds left in the third, when the best shooter in history stepped across half court and buried a 31-footer off the dribble.

Nothing but net, and for Portland, there was nothing left.

warriors
Zaza Pachulia shows fans at the Moda Center how many points Stephen Curry’s made shot was worth. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

The Warriors finish their season 8-0 against the Blazers, a talented team that never stood a chance against a No. 1 seed playing its best basketball. And the Dubs proved capable of dominating despite adverse circumstances.

Taking the cautious path for Kevin Durant’s calf had little-to-no negative effect. Meanwhile, Steve Kerr’s belief that the team could march forward without him was validated.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a group like this,” Brown said. “Steve did a fantastic — not a great job — a fantastic job of laying the foundation here on both sides of the floor, culturally.”

If the Trail Blazers were going to steal a game in this series, it was going to be Game 3. But when they couldn’t convert a 17-point lead into a victory, their fate was sealed.

There were no weak points for the Warriors — none Portland could expose, at least — just a team in complete control of its destiny. And all of the things that make them unstoppable were on display.

Curry continued on his quest to remind the world why he was a unanimous MVP by scoring 37 points on 20 shots. Draymond Green guarded and slowed everyone from Damian Lillard to Meyers Leonard. Klay Thompson hunted his shot on one end while chasing the Blazers’ toughest defensive assignment on the other.

And then there was Durant, who returned from a brief hiatus with a smooth 10 points in just 21 minutes. He wasn’t a force of nature. But he didn’t have to be against a team that struggles to guard shooters running off screens.

“We knew if we threw the first punch, it would overwhelm them a bit,” said Durant.

Obviously, bigger tests await.

Golden State will benefit from some rest as the series between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers will be at least six games long. And with the way the Warriors are playing, anything less than a five-game, gentleman’s sweep would represent a disappointment against whichever team advances.

So much of their first-round series against the Blazers was defined by uncertainty — on Kerr’s status, on Durant’s calf. But the ultimate result of it never was.

BONUS MIKE BROWN JOKE

For reference, here’s the dunk he was talking about:

 

Contact Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

Draymond GreenGolden State WarriorsKlay ThompsonMike BrownNBA PlayoffsPortland Trail BlazersStephen CurrySteve Kerrterry stotts

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