- The Warriors’ dismantling of the Blazers in Game 4 proved they are far and away the best team in the postseason field—and they have the potential to reach another level.
There comes a point in every Warriors blowout when I feel uncomfortable. Something about watching professional basketball players look so utterly helpless against the Golden State juggernaut is almost off-putting to me. That moment usually occurs in the second half, when the Warriors stop messing around and go on their one big run that ices the game. On Monday night, that moment occurred in the first quarter of the Dubs’ dismantling of the Blazers, as Golden State scored 45 points in the first 12 minutes of the game en route to a sweep-clinching win. Portland looked broken, and a few minutes into the game it was obvious the Blazers had no chance.
There is no hyperbole in describing this first quarter. The Warriors surgically picked apart Portland on the offensive end. Stephen Curry was at his pettiest best, pulling up for three pointers and blatantly disregarding the idea of what we’ve learned to be a “good shot.” The ball movement was crisp. The pace was suffocating. And that was only on offense. Defensively, Golden State had the Blazers—and their high-powered backcourt—in a vise grip. The Warriors effortlessly switched on picks, furiously closed out on shooters, and swatted away layups at the rim.
Monday night was the team the NBA feared when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors in the off-season. Except Durant didn’t even play his normal minutes load because it was his first game back from a calf injury. The Warriors were also missing Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes and head coach Steve Kerr. Basically, Golden State was firing on all cylinders even though some of those cylinders weren’t even available.
For all the talk about how a certain team in the East may flip the switch, it’s Golden State who showed Monday they can reach another level when everyone’s focus is maximized. Whether they were galvanized by Kerr’s absence or desperate for a long break, the Warriors ascended to a new plane for large stretches of Monday night’s blowout. In those moments, the team is truly unstoppable. When Curry can pull up in transition without hesitation, Draymond Green can hit a bunch of wide-open threes and guard every player on the floor, when Durant barely has to break a sweat, there is simply no competing with this team.
The Warriors currently look primed to go on a postseason run rivaling some of the greatest of all-time, such as the early-aughts Lakers behemoths. Curry is playing like he did at the height of his unanimous MVP season, Green is arguably the most talented defender in the league, Durant has the potential to be the best player in any game, and steady contributions are coming from the likes of Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Javale McGee.
This is how bad the Warriors’ gutting of the Blazers got on Monday: In the third quarter, Green decided to help C.J. McCollum off the floor after McCollum was called for a foul. In a series in which Green has been at his trashiest trash-talking best, even he felt a pang of sympathy as Golden State ran its lead into the 30's.
It’s just impossible to see a potential roadblock to a Warriors championship at this point in the postseason. The Rockets don’t have the defense. How can the Spurs play Pau Gasol or David Lee against Golden State? The Cavaliers couldn’t contain a Paul Georg-Jeff Teague-led attack, what are they going to do against Durant and Curry?
Golden State not only demolished Portland on Monday, the Warriors did so with glee. They were unabashedly disrespectful. The Warriors played with the kind of anger and focus of a team tired of a year full of 3–1 lead jokes. If Golden State can come close to maintaining the level of focus it showed in Game 4 against Portland, the Warriors will ultimately have the last laugh.