2. A stellar defensive effort once again
Golden State’s commitment defensively was questioned all season long after ranking 16th in opponents points per game. The Dubs have shown the propensity to increase their effort level at that end when necessary, proved once again with one of their best defensive performances under Steve Kerr in Game 3.
Not only did they hold Portland to just 40.0 percent shooting from the field including an 11-of-35 showing from beyond the arc, but they limited the Blazers to just 33 points in the second half. That figure is the lowest mark for any Golden State opponent during these playoffs.
Usually regarded as one of the best scorers in the game, Damian Lillard shot just 5-of-18 on his way to 19 points. The Warriors have blitzed him with two defenders at every point of this series, content to let anyone else beat them. The strategy forced Dame into some tough passes, resulting in 5 Game 3 turnovers, pumping his total this series to 14, or 4.6 a game.
The Trail Blazers came into the Western Conference Finals riding high on an offense ranked fifth among all postseason participants in points per game and fourth in 3-point percentage. Led by Lillard and McCollum, Portland could score in bunches and give almost any opponent consistent headaches.
So far in these conference finals, they’ve failed to get anything going, bothered by an elite defense rounding back into championship form. Golden State may lack the desire necessary to consistently defend at a high level, but there’s no denying its ability to step up when it really matters and get the job done, something it continues to show during these playoffs.