Stephen Curry scored 30 points as the Golden State Warriors wrapped up a series sweep with a 121-95 rout of the Utah Jazz on Monday.
The Warriors advanced to a Western Conference finals showdown against either Houston or San Antonio after overcoming a fleeting Utah rally to take the series 4-0 at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Smart Home Arena.
It was a second consecutive 4-0 series victory for the Warriors, who also notched a sweep against Portland in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Warriors laid the foundation for the win with a devastating first quarter performance which saw them pour on 39 points to open up a double-digit lead against a shellshocked Utah.
The Jazz battled back to reduce the deficit to eight points at half-time at 60-52.
Utah remained in touching distance throughout the third period but the Warriors always looked capable of finding an extra gear when it mattered.
The decisive period came at the end of the third period when both Curry and Andre Iguodala both hit three-pointers in quick succession to help the Dubs pull away to 93-79 heading into the fourth quarter.
That burst of scoring was a foretaste of what was to follow in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors pulling further clear to wrap up victory by a 26-point margin.
Curry was one of five Warriors players to hit double figures, with Klay Thompson adding 21 points and Kevin Durant 18. Green added 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for a triple-double.
For Utah, Gordon Hayward top scored with 25 points while Shelvin Mack had 18 and Dante Exum 15.
The Golden State Warriors (GSW) have put on a stellar show in the NBA Playoffs so far, but the question is, can they become the first team to go 16-0?
Let us know your thoughts as our two writers discuss the topic.
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JAY ASSER, SAYS YES
No team in the history of the NBA playoffs has ever run the table and gone a perfect 16-0 from the opening round to lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
If there was ever a team to finally break through, however, it’s these Golden State Warriors. Considering the firepower and balance the Warriors possess, as well as the way they’re currently playing, it wouldn’t exactly be unfathomable to see them romp the competition the rest of the way.
While no team has ever accomplished the feat before, a few have come close. The 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers most notably went 15-1, with their lone loss coming at the hands of a virtuoso Allen Iverson performance in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Even Michael Jordan’s teams couldn’t pull it off, but it’s been proven that winning all 16 isn’t inconceivable. Golden State are nearly halfway there after taking a commanding 3-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the second round, but everyone knows the real test is on the horizon.
Either the San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets will follow in the Western Conference Finals, while in all likelihood the third part of the trilogy with the Cleveland Cavaliers looms in the Finals.
Take a look back at some of the best moments from the Warriors’ Game 3 victory over the Jazz. pic.twitter.com/tiCVUEymH1— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) May 7, 2017
With all due to respect to James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and, of course, LeBron James, this is more about the Warriors than their opponents. When they’re playing at their best or even close to it, they’re unbeatable and we’ve seen the full capacity of their powers through the first seven games.
Golden State are at or near the top in a long list of statistical categories in the postseason, but maybe most impressively, they lead all playoff teams in turnover percentage (11.5) and defensive rebound percentage (82.2) – arguably their two weakest areas over the past couple of years.
They also have Kevin Durant now to bail them out when games turn into slugfests and offences go stagnant.
There’s just too much shooting, star power and defence for the Warriors not to be a favourite in every game they play. It’s a recipe for making history.
JAMES PIERCY, SAYS NO
Bigging up this Warriors team is a bit like claiming Michael Jordan could play a bit or that John Stockton was able to spot a pass. It’s clear they’re the best team in the NBA right now, and probably by some margin.
Even without head coach Steve Kerr on the sidelines, they haven’t put a foot wrong in sweeping Portland and probably Utah, who look almost certain to succumb in four games tonight.
But, before we get into who is standing in their way – Houston/San Antonio and likely Cleveland – let’s consider who they have beaten to reach 7-0 in the playoffs.
A Portland team with a disastrous defensive scheme and an offence based primarily on their backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum going toe-totoe with Golden State.
With no Jusuf Nurkic to offer rim protection or physical presence in the paint at the other end, the Trail Blazers were toothless in trying to throw the Warriors off their game, let alone stemming the tide.
A team they hammered 4-0 in the regular season with a point differential of 19.25 . The Jazz were a little more equipped but their trump card, Rudy Gobert doesn’t look 100 per cent fit and they’re off the back of a draining seven-game series.
Cavs haven't lost a playoff game since Klay Thompson told LeBron James it's a "man's league."— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) May 7, 2017
Thrown into the lions’ den of Oracle Arena 48 hours after beating the Clippers in Game 7, it’s no wonder they’re on the back foot and could be knocked out before they steady their legs. You can only beat what’s in front of you, but it’s been easy.
That should change with Houston or San Antonio. Both represent different challenges: San Antonio a defensive beast with size and Houston an offensive giant, second only to the Warriors, who won’t be fazed in a shoot-out.
Then there’s Cleveland, LeBron and the pressure of having to get over the line. A barrier they struggled against last season and who’s to say they won’t, at least, wobble again.
Kevin Durant’s there but he’s never won a title, nor been in a team so heavily favoured. It’s some stretch to say confidently they won’t drop at least one game against two of that trio.