If you turned off each of the last two games of the series at halftime, you’d think that the Portland Trail Blazers had a solid (2-1) series lead on the Golden State Warriors. But after a second half collapse in Game 2 allowed the Warriors to make it a (2-0) series in favor of Golden State, Portland again failed to finish in Game 3. Now, with their postseason on the line, the Blazers face the task of trying to avoid being swept in the series in Monday night’s Game 4.
Portland was favored to win Game 3, but they couldn’t capitalize on the home court advantage. At first, it looked like they very well might, as Portland poured it on in the first half. The Blazers held leads of nearly 20 points late in the first half and led by 13 at the break, but something changed when the teams came back from halftime.
After outscoring the Warriors 37-26 in the second quarter, Portland was held to just 33 points the rest of the way. Golden State was incredibly consistent offensively, scoring 27, 26, 29, and 28 in each of the four quarters. Portland’s second half tanked, as a 66-point first half performance couldn’t even lead them to scoring 100 points in the game, as the Blazers fell 110-99. Stephen Curry’s 36-point performance marked his fourth straight contest reaching the 30-point plateau.
Despite Kevin Durant remaining out with an injury, the Warriors return to the favorite’s side of the betting lines for Game 4. The spread isn’t huge, currently at just 3½ points, but the Warriors’ side of the spread pays at -115, while the Portland end pays at -105.
While I did not believe that Golden State would be able to sweep Portland prior to the series starting, that is now a significant possibility. That said, the Blazers are (2-0) when facing elimination this postseason, having won Games 6 and 7 against Denver in Round 2. The Blazers have come out strong in the first half of each of the last two contests, and I think it’s possible that they can do something comparable for Game 4. If they avoid the second half implosions that have plagued them their last two times out, they’ll be able to get on the board and avoid being swept.
I’m taking Portland +3½ (-105) for Game 4, with the thought that Golden State closes them out in Game 5 back in Oakland. Avoiding a sweep is one thing, but winning four straight to win a series in seven games is another, regardless of the opponent. And before the references to the 2016 NBA Finals come up—where Golden State blew a (3-1) series lead to Cleveland—just remember that the Trail Blazers are a very good team, but they aren’t LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s 2015-16 Cavaliers good.
Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...
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