GSW remain favorites in West Conference | The Triangle

GSW remain favorites in West Conference

In spite of fielding a weakened roster and suffering a reduced quality of play as compared to previous seasons, the Golden State Warriors find themselves on the brink of winning the Western Conference for the fifth year running (Photograph courtesy of Ezra Shaw/Getty Images).

The Western Conference Finals between the favored Golden State Warriors and the underdog Portland Trail Blazers will begin May 14, 2019. While the story of “David vs. Goliath” is common in many playoff matchups, this series is different due to the different storylines involved

Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry will not only have to deal with the All-Star duo of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, but will also have to face off against his own brother, Seth Curry. Tough Seth isn’t quite the All-Star caliber player that his brother is, but one can only imagine some of the tricks he knows to get under his brother’s skin after playing against each other since childhood.

The Warriors will also be without their star small forward Kevin Durant for at least games one and two, since he suffered a strained calf in game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets. The Warriors have also been without center DeMarcus Cousins since game two of the first round series after he endured a partially torn quadriceps muscle. As the injuries have piled up, questions and concerns about the team have mounted as well.

The Blazers, on the other hand, have injuries of their own to deal with. Rodney Hood is questionable for game one after hyperextending his knee in the decisive game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets. Hood was instrumental in the Blazers series win against the Nuggets, as he hit big shot after big shot and averaged 15 points per game. For the Blazers to pull off the upset against the Warriors, they are going to need Hood.

Nuggets Head Coach Mike Malone explained the importance of Hood after his team lost to the Blazers in game 6.

“To me, Rodney Hood is the MVP of the series,” Malone said Saturday. “Damian Lillard is a superstar. You know what you’re going to get with him. CJ McCollum is a potential All-Star, so you know what you’re getting with him. But Rodney Hood in their three wins is at 20 points a game, 61 from the field, 54 from 3. So we have to do a better job of guarding him and game planning for him when he comes in.” (ESPN)

For the Blazers to pull off the upset, it will be important to win one of the first two games in Golden State. The Blazers will look to take advantage of Durant’s absence and hope to steal home court advantage by the time they return to Portland for game 3.