2019: Mismanagement Against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals
After finally getting over the hump in the second round, the 2019 Blazers faced a vulnerable Warriors team in the Western Conference Finals. Durant and DeMarcus Cousins injuries crippled Golden State, and it lost Klay Thompson during the series.
The door was open for Portland to beat the depleted defending champs and get their first finals berth since 1992.
Instead, the Blazers let the series slip away disappointingly, falling 4-0 while leading every game in the second half. Injuries to its rotation certainly contributed, as Portland lost Rodney Hood and Zach Collins during the series. Injuries aside, failure to execute in crunch time sealed their fate.
Poor shot selection, untimely turnovers and bad late-game execution doomed the Blazers against Golden State’s vaunted championship experience. Veterans like Lillard, McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu came up small when it mattered most. Stotts also failed to make the necessary adjustments to counter Golden State’s surgically precise offense.
Beating a vulnerable Warriors team minus Durant and Cousins was likely the Blazers’ best shot at reaching the finals during the Lillard era. If afforded a do-over, Portland would be more aggressive in attacking Golden State’s weakened defense while limiting careless mistakes. Utilizing zone defenses or double teams could have also flustered the depleted Warriors.