The 2019 Western Conference Finals has me simultaneously excited that Damian Lillard will finally have the opportunity to play in a conference finals series and satisfied that the Golden State Warriors are very much the favorite to head back to the NBA Finals.
Having already looked at how the Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers matched up during the regular season yesterday, today the Golden State of Mind staff lays down some predictions.
Jannelle: My prediction is Warriors in six. Portland is a scrappy bunch and competitive. I don’t foresee blowouts here.
Joe: The Blazers have had one hell of a postseason run, and they deserve every bit of praise heaped toward their way. However, they have had arguably an easier path toward the WCF. They defeated an Oklahoma City Thunder team with a sputtering star point guard, an injury-plagued go-to-guy, and a supporting cast that couldn’t provide them with additional offensive firepower.
I will give them plenty of credit for getting past the 2-seed Denver Nuggets, but it wasn’t much of a surprise, to be quite honest. The Nuggets are an inexperienced playoff team, while this Blazers squad has had several years of playoff experience together. But going from the Nuggets to the Warriors is an enormous step up in competition.
The Warriors just got out of a bloodbath of a series against the Rockets, who are a much better team than the Blazers despite finishing with an identical record. Out of all the Western teams, the Rockets had the greatest chance of knocking the Warriors out with their switch-everything defense. The Blazers don’t have the defensive chops to contend with the Warriors’ firepower, especially with Enes Kanter seeing big minutes for them. Watch for the Warriors to exploit him on the floor.
Offensively, the Blazers can always count on the possibility of either Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum — or both — to explode. But the Warriors also have much better perimeter stoppers in Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. I expect the Warriors to put the both of them immediately on the Blazers’ backcourt duo, who might find it difficult to deal with their combination of length and size.
If Kevin Durant hadn’t been injured and was fully healthy to start the series, I think the Warriors would’ve been capable of sweeping the Blazers. With that said, I expect the Warriors to take this in 5.
Dr. Tom: If the Blazers featured any other point guard of comparable skills, I’d pick the Warriors in 5. But because they feature Oakland legend Damian Lillard? I have to give the Blazers an extra game out of respect for Dame Dolla. Therefore, I think it’ll be Warriors in six.
Brady: Swift victory. I think the Warriors are firing on all cylinders after the last five quarters against Houston. They understand that, with a highly intense Eastern Conference Finals set to go down, this is an opportunity to get in, get out, and rest up.
Portland is as competitive as they get, but they’re coming of a seven-game series, with four games at altitude, and one quadruple-overtime affair. How much do they have left in the tank? Furthermore, they have no areas of the court where they’re superior to Golden State — I just don’t know what they’re supposed to do.
The only way I see this series being close is if the Warriors don’t take it seriously enough. It would behoove them to not do that. Dubs in five.
Nate P.: If Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins were playing, I’d have no problem bringing out the brooms for the series. Without those two...the Warriors just beat the Houston Rockets. So... purely out of respect for Damian Lillard, I’m saying Warriors in five. But I think it will definitely be a gentleman’s sweep in the sense that years from now we won’t recall much about the game the Blazers won.
Daniel: WE GOT LOVE FOR DAME!!! Warriors in 6.