The Golden State Warriors completed their sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in dramatic fashion with a 119-117 overtime win in Game 4. The Blazers once again squandered a double-digit lead in the second half—sealing their fate against the reigning NBA Champions. Outside of the sting of defeat, Meyers Leonard exploded for a career-high 30 points in 40 minutes of action. For the Warriors, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry became the first teammates to record triple-doubles as teammates in the same playoff game. In the end, Game 4’s result was an accurate representation of the entire series: Blazers get out in front only to fall down the stretch.
Aided by passive defense, both sides got rolling early. The Blazers and Warriors combined to score 71 points in the opening 12 minutes. Golden State feasted on open looks in the paint as Portland’s interior defenders consistently missed rotations. For the Blazers, Leonard’s shooting opened up the entire floor. Whether it was hitting the short roll or launching from beyond the arc, Leonard couldn’t miss when Damian Lillard found him.
Along with matching the Warriors in the score column, the Blazers did an excellent job of winning the rebounding battle and limiting turnovers. Both of those factors kept the score close by keeping the Warriors off the break.
With a Blazers victory, Game 4 would have been appropriately titled the “Meyers Leonard Game”. Despite the final result, Portland’s big fella made the most of his opportunities. Leonard punished the Warriors every time they left him alone on the perimeter. He went 3-4 on his three-pointers in the second quarter and pushed the Blazers’ lead to 12 points with 32.4 seconds remaining before halftime.
The Warriors were finally forced to adapt after Leonard notched 25 points in the first half. For the first time in the series, Golden State routinely switched off screens to keep a body close to Leonard. He only added five points to his tally in the final two quarters, but the threat of his shooting gave Portland’s offense room to work with.
Coffee is for Closers
The Blazers imploded at the end of both the second and third quarters. Portland allowed Golden State to erase double-digit leads by surrendering extended scoring runs. Before halftime, Curry cut a 12-point deficit to four points in less than 30 seconds. In the third quarter, the Blazers lost control of a 17-point lead due to a 9-0 run from the Warriors with under two minutes remaining.
Average NBA teams can ride that type of momentum to victories. Defending champs will bury opponents with opportunities like that.
Portland’s inability to maintain leads did secure a place in history. The Blazers are the first team to enjoy leads of at least 15 points in three consecutive playoff losses.
Lillard had his best game of the series with 28 points in Game 4. He scored 21 of those points in the first three quarters. Even when his shot wasn’t falling, Lillard got others involved. He produced 12 assists in 44 minutes. Lillard nearly delivered another memorable moment with a last-second three-pointer. His shot from the corner missed its mark as the overtime period came to a close with the Warriors ahead by two.
CJ McCollum took advantage of the space created by Leonard’s shooting to notch 13 points in the third quarter. After going 2-10 from distance in Game 3, McCollum recovered by connecting on five of his nine three-pointers on Monday.
Al-Farouq Aminu’s postseason came to a close with a quiet 11 minutes. He finished with zero points, one rebound and one block.
Enes Kanter and Zach Collins combined for 16 points off the bench. With Leonard firmly in the spotlight, the reserve post players didn’t get much of a run in the postseason finale.
The Blazers will now shift their focus to re-tooling their roster for another postseason run in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. It was a rough ending for coach Terry Stotts’ squad in the Western Conference Finals. After the sting dulls from the last four games, the memories created by this squad will live on in Rip City lore for generations.