The Portland Trail Blazers have to be more than just a little dejected right now, because they have blown double-digit leads in back-to-back games as the Golden State Warriors have turned this Western Conference finals series into a runaway.
And now there is the opportunity to make this a clean sweep as these teams take the floor at 9:05 PM ET at the Moda Center in Portland.
It was looking very much like the Blazers were going to be one of those teams that would come back home and give a huge effort, and indeed it appeared to be very much like they were going to get back into the series. They were superior in the first half, building what at one juncture was an 18-point lead, but they let it evaporate when they came out of the locker room for the second half.
Golden State has acquired a reputation for being a team that comes charging out for the third quarter, and in this series they have out-scored the Blazers by an average of 9.3 points per game in the third stanza.
Portland had scored 66 points in the first half, and then found itself bested by a 29-13 margin in Period #3.
What’s left in the tank?
In the NBA playoff odds for Game 4, the Warriors are favored as they seek the sweep:
Golden State Warriors -3.5 (-105)
Portland Trail Blazers +3.5 (-105)
Over 219.5 points (-102)
Under 219.5 points (-108)
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The numbers indicate that there isn’t any real edge to be had on the part of a team down 3-0, whether it is through their own desperation or a letdown by the opponent. In fact, if there’s an extra motivation, it would be Golden State’s, as they have no idea if they are going to have Kevin Durant or DeMarcus Cousins back for the playoffs and could use as much rest as they can get. To put some of that into the bank, it means a “sweep,” and maybe they’ll get lucky and the Bucks or Raptors will take their series six or seven games.
As we come into this one, Andre Iguodala may be held out because of an injury to his Achilles. Steve Kerr has been looking ahead, obviously, and making his bench a more prominent part of things. Alfonzo McKinnie, an undrafted player out of Wisconsin-Green Bay, had nine rebounds in 21 minutes and a +24 plus-minus rating in Game 3, and that was the high number in the game.
Kerr also makes these unorthodox moves like start a little-used center such as Damian Jones (first-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2016), who left the game after three minutes and three fouls. I guess he’s their “opener” or designated hacker. Who needs a center anyway, when you have someone like Draymond Green, who had a triple-0double in Game 3 (20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) filling up the stat sheet?
Some of the metrics have worked for the Dubs, and some have not. Yes, Steph Curry has come alive and been a huge producer here, with 110 points. He was 6-of-16 from the arc a coupe of nights ago, but the rest of the team was just two of 10. Will they move back to the “mean” in this game? Yes, maybe there’s upside there. And there is reason to believe that whatever the Blazers have been doing on a game-by-game basis to adjust, it’s been countered by G-State, which has outscored Portland 91-63 in the third quarter.
Consequently, the Warriors are the only playoff team ever to have rallied back from being at least 13 points down in two straight post-season victories.
That is the kind of thing that deflates the opponent. The Blazers could have been up 2-1 in this spot, but instead Golden State has the “broom” out.
We’re sure we will get all that Damian Lillard has to give, but he was 5-for-18 on Saturday and has separated ribs, which really sounds painful; (although he says it has little effect).
If you look at this from one perspective, to go from a 2.5-point favorite to a 3.5-point dog in the space of one game – and at home, no less – would seem to bring value. But I’m not sure this is about the power ratings. This one could be about how the Blazers gave unquestionably been beaten down in the mental aspect of the game. And the W’s haven’t been all that bad in the past in putting the last dagger in there.
We have not yet lost a play in either conference finals. And we think we’ll continue that way. Not a huge recommendation, but we’ll lay it.
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