Monday's NBA playoffs: MSU's Draymond Green, Steph Curry send Warriors to fifth straight finals appearance
Portland, Ore. — The Golden State Warriors swept their way to a fifth straight NBA Finals, getting triple-doubles from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in a 119-117 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Green, the former Michigan State star, had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and made a key 3-pointer in overtime.
Curry added 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He and Green became the first teammates to have triple-doubles in the same playoff game.
The Warriors will face the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between Toronto and Milwaukee. The Bucks lead that series 2-1 with Game 4 on Tuesday night in Canada.
The Warriors erased another big deficit, coming back from 17 down after erasing an 18-point deficit in Game 3 and a 17-point hole in Game 2.
“We’ve been here before. We’ve seen everything, every experience you can imagine. So we relied on that,” Curry said.
Playing without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors became the first team to reach five straight finals since the Boston Celtics went to 10 in a row from 1957-66.
Damian Lillard, playing with separated ribs, had 28 points and 12 assists for Portland. He missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out in the extra period. Meyers Leonard added a career-high 30 points along with 12 rebounds.
The Warriors were up 114-113 in the extra period after Green missed the first of a pair of free throws. CJ McCollum’s jumper from out front briefly gave Portland the lead but Alfonzo McKinnie’s basket put Golden State back ahead and Green made a 3-pointer to push it to 199-115 with 39 seconds left.
Lillard made a layup and Curry missed a jumper to give Portland back the ball. Facing stifling defense from both Green and Klay Thompson, Lillard couldn’t get off a shot but the ball went out of bounds in the scramble. The Blazers got it back with 3.3 seconds left but Lillard’s final shot didn’t fall.
For the third straight game the Trail Blazers led at the half. They stretched the lead to 17 points in the third quarter, but the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to close within 95-90 early in the final period.
Green’s long baseline jumper gave the Warriors a 108-106 lead with 3:30 left. Lillard’s 3-pointer put the Blazers back ahead and Leonard’s dunk extended it to 111-108 with just under 2 minutes to go.
After Thompson’s 3-pointer tied it up again both Curry and Lillard missed 3s. Curry made a 3 from the corner with 10.7 seconds left but he was called for traveling first and it didn’t count.
Lillard’s layup bounced around the rim and out and the game went to overtime.
Iguodala was out because of a sore left calf. The veteran swingman, who is averaging 10.1 points in the playoffs, was hurt in the second half of Saturday’s Game 3 victory.
It was not known how long he’d be out, but the Warriors said an MRI Sunday was clear.
Golden State already was missing Durant because of a sore right calf. It’s unknown when the two-time NBA Finals MVP will return.
Lillard separated his ribs in Game 2 but was playing through the pain. He averaged 33 points in the first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City, hitting a series-clinching 3-pointer in Game 5, but he struggled against Golden State’s defensive focus on him.
Portland, playing with urgency in an elimination game, pulled in front 30-28 in the opening quarter on CJ McCollum’s layup and free throw, but Curry answered on the other end with a step-back 3-pointer.
Portland went ahead 59-50 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Leonard, who finished with five 3s in the first half.Curry hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in the half to close the Warriors within 69-65 at the break.
Portland pushed the lead to 83-72 on McCollum’s 3-pointer. After he made another 3 to push the lead to 91-78, he gestured to the crowd to make noise.
Timberwolves keep Saunders
The Minnesota Timberwolves have chosen Ryan Saunders as their full-fledged head coach — and the first millennial to hold the job in the NBA.
The team announced Monday that the 33-year-old Saunders will stay in the post he held on an interim basis during the second half of this past season, the role long held by his father. The widely expected decision was made by new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.
“I’ve known Ryan for many years and have always respected his approach to the game, work ethic, basketball knowledge and passion,” Rosas said in a statement.
“His coaching style and philosophies are ideal for the modern NBA, and I am confident that as a partner he will get the most out of our players as we build an identity and a sustainable winning model.”
With Saunders and the 40-year-old Rosas, the Timberwolves have a leadership duo that, at the combined age of 73, is only three years older than San Antonio president and coach Gregg Popovich and 12 years older than their predecessor Tom Thibodeau.
The next-youngest coach in the league behind Saunders is Sacramento’s Luke Walton, who is 39. He just missed the millennial cutoff, defined by the Pew Research Center as people with birth dates between 1981 and 1996.
When Rosas was hired earlier this month, Timberwolves chief executive officer Ethan Casson said there was no mandate from owner Glen Taylor to keep Saunders in charge on the sideline, but even Casson acknowledged Taylor’s unabashed fondness for the son of the late Flip Saunders, the former Pistons coach who was one of the most instrumental figures in the history of the 30-year-old Timberwolves franchise.