This won’t be a long write-up. The determining factor in whether or not Golden State sweeps Portland and gets to its fifth consecutive NBA Finals will Portland’s mentality tonight.
Game 2 in California was close and Game 3 was looking like a home route for the Blazers before Golden State’s defense suffocated them in the second half. The Warriors broke Portland’s spirit and held it to thirty-three points in the second half at the Moda Center, completing an 18-point comeback to take a 3–0 series lead.
It’s win-or-stay-home for Portland tonight, with tip-off scheduled for 9:05 pm. The Blazers are trading at either +3.5 or +4.0.
If this game ends up being a continuation of Game 3, it won’t be close. Portland can’t win this series but it does have pride at stake, at home, especially given how it was swept out of the first round in last year’s postseason.
Professional athletes are different kinds of cats. Confidence and ego just means so much in determining performance, as was evidenced on Saturday night. Portland had no confidence, no swagger, no spirit, and it was utterly broken in front of its home fans.
Sure, the series is done; Damian Lillard is hobbling; but I just have to believe Portland, with the chance to hit the reset button and focus on winning at least one game, will come out with a renewed outlook on this game, in front of the home fans.
Kevin Durant won’t play in this game and there’s an emerging possibility that Andre Iguodala won’t either. He had an MRI that came back clean on Sunday after leaving Game 3 early with a lower-leg injury. Given Golden State’s position in the series and the fairly quick turnaround, I’m doubtful he’ll play.
Then there’s Golden State’s mentality to consider. It’s playing so well right now and obviously wants the sweep. It’s still hard to play with a killer’s mentality in a spot where a loss just wouldn’t be so consequential. Given that, the Iguodala injury, and the potential for Portland to reset and save face simply by avoiding a sweep, I give the Blazers no worse than a 50/50 shot tonight. Four points in a playoff game is a substantial spread and I’m just not on board with making the Warriors such big favorites.
That said, I’m not keen on it being close, one way or another. I’ll keep the spread play here because it’s worth a play but I’m throwing just as much, if not twice as much, on the Blazers moneyline.
Play: Portland +4