The Warriors and Blazers will meet in the Western Conference Finals, as Portland is now the last line of defense in the West to prevent the Warriors from a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.
It’s the third time in that period the two teams have met in the postseason, with the Warriors winning easily in the first two series. The hope this time is that this particular Blazers team, which has made it further than any Portland team since 2000, has learned from the lessons of past playoff failure and is ready to be a true challenger to Golden State’s throne.
The oddsmakers still have Golden State as a hefty favorite (-500) and the Blazers as sizable underdogs (+375), for good reason, but those odds are much closer than they would have been had the two teams met in the first round. That’s because Portland has been impressive in dispatching of the Thunder and Nuggets in the first two rounds, and Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum seem to be in top form as one of the league’s most formidable backcourts.
There are five main factors that will decide this series, and we’ll explore those below. The Blazers are a long shot, but it’s far from a certainty that the Warriors will roll through to the Finals with ease.