Unlike in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Western Conference’s series went to a minimum of six games before we knew what team was the first to advance. The teams that are left have taken hits to their rosters but are still going strong thanks to the talented core that’s carried them. While the Golden State Warriors may be the favorite to go back with two of their stars returning in this series, the Portland Trailblazers will provide a challenge, even when Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins come back into the lineup. Will Portland have enough to take down the Warriors, or will the Warriors cruise to another Championship appearance?
#1 Golden State Warriors v. #3 Portland Trailblazers
The Warriors held off the Rockets in Game 6 with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala leading the way. While Stephen and Andre are playing hurt, Klay was able to step up when it mattered, and all four had a game to remember. Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins will come back as the series progresses, and if they can get back to how they played before Cousins went down in the first round, there’s no stopping them.
For the Trailblazers, they’ve stayed relatively healthy throughout the playoffs, losing only Rodney Hood in the Game Seven against Denver (Jusuf Nurkic was out before the playoffs started). While Enes Kanter has been banged up, like Iguodala and Curry for the Warriors, he has played quality minutes and is a difference maker on defense.
The backcourt matchups of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum v. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be exciting to watch. Beyond that, Portland have Kanter, Seth Curry and Al-Farouq Aminu, who are either their next highest scorers or their biggest threats offensively or defensively. The Warriors in contrast have Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney, and this is before factoring in how DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant will return this series, just not as soon as we thought.
Overall analysis: This looks to be a lopsided matchup, and not one that favors the Trailblazers. The Warriors have had more rest, more time to prepare and have the better depth. A lot of people will be focused on which backcourt does better, but it comes down to how well Portland can lock up Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Once Durant and Cousins return, this will probably be a quick series.
Prediction: Warriors win series 4-1