Western Conference Finals Preview: Can the Blazers Take Down the Champs?

The Warriors and Trail Blazers meet in the Western Conference Finals trending in very different directions.

Golden State fended off a pesky LA Clippers squad in the first round and took care of Houston despite losing Kevin Durant in Game 5 during the second round. Portland knocked off Oklahoma City in the first round with relative ease (and some help from Damian Lillard) before winning a Game 7 on the road against the Nuggets in the second round.

Durant won’t be available for Golden State in Game 1 of the series and according to various media reports, he’s unlikely to play in Game 2. While this may seem like an advantage for Portland, the Warriors still have three All-Stars on the floor. Even though Durant was putting up ridiculous postseason numbers, Stephen Curry was the underlying force tying the Warriors together.

The Trail Blazers have their own star backcourt in Lillard and CJ McCollum. The latter had a performance for the ages in Game 7 against Denver, scoring 37 points and draining the game-winning shot in crunch time to seal Portland’s 100-96 win. Lillard and McCollum have combined to score 54.0 points per game in the playoffs.

Here’s how the two teams stack up by the numbers entering the conference finals.

Team Playoff W-L Points Per Game Opponent Points Per Game FG % 3-point % Offensive Rating Defensive Rating
Golden State 8-4 118.1 112.3 48.6 37.2 117.4 111.8
Portland 8-4 111.2 109.8 44.0 35.9 110.8 109.7


The Blazers have been slightly better defensively, but the Warriors have been better in every offensive category. Those numbers are largely due to Durant’s play, but he’s probably not going to be part of this series for at least the first couple of games. It’ll be up to Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to step up in his place — remember that Green challenged Durant earlier in the season about his free agency, stating that the Warriors had won a championship without him.

One year after getting swept in the first round, Portland is on its deepest playoff run under head coach Terry Stotts. The Trail Blazers lost Jusuf Nurkic, a key part of their rotation, for the season weeks before the playoffs started, but still managed to rally together, as Enes Kanter and Zach Collins have emerged as major contributors in Nurkic’s absence. Evan Turner, who has been largely non-existent in the playoffs, exploded for 14 points and seven rebounds in Portland’s Game 7 victory. He was one of the team’s big free agent signings during the summer of 2016, and this series against Golden State will be an opportunity for him to live up to that contract.

Golden State and Portland split their regular season series 2-2. Curry and Green weren’t available in one of Golden State’s wins while Durant played in all four contests. The Trail Blazers will be confident heading into this series with the Warriors playing somewhat shorthanded, but Curry, Thompson and Green have been here before. Even with the best player of the 2019 playoffs sidelined, the Warriors are still the defending champions. It’ll take everything Portland has and then some to knock Golden State off the throne.

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