Golden State did Monday as Cleveland did Sunday - sweep its second consecutive pretender to the throne, in this case the Utah Jazz, 121-95. Golden State are almost 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. In fact, they were only able to have a lead on the Warriors for 11 minutes and 55 seconds over the course of four games.
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. It would be nice if the NBA Playoffs could deliver more lengthy series where the top teams are challenged in classic games... but my guess is if we do get another Warriors-Cavs epic then nobody will be complaining. Chastened by their mildly irksome performance in Game 3 of this now-extinguished Western Conference semifinal, they grabbed a quick lead, widened it and by the end of the first quarter made it so large that the Jazz could not alter their fate no matter how hard they tried. They flipped the scoring and outdid the Warriors 35-21, to close the gap to 8 points, 60-52 at halftime.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 25 points.
The Golden State Warriors are hunting the same thing the Cleveland Cavaliers have already secured on the other side of the conference divide: a third straight trip to the conference finals.
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In Game 2, the Warriors opened up the game with a 12-3, run while adding a late first quarter run of 14-2.
And while the Jazz held sturdy at times, there really was never any doubt. The Warriors are always one demoralizing three-pointer away from ending the Jazz's hopes and dreams.
Jazz fans sent their stars off with a huge ovation as they were taken out - there were "Gor-Don Hay-Ward" chants after he was taken out, just to show how much they love him in Utah (consider it an attempted Celtics vaccine). And that the only team to win three consecutive series by sweeps and that no parade route shall be booked before its time.
But Utah responded with a 14-2 flurry to start the second quarter, slicing through a now too relaxed Warriors defense as a sluggish David West failed to protect the rim. Golden State has defeated Utah by 12 points, 11 points, and 11 points again. Mack started in his place. The Jazz were 18-15 during the regular season when Hill missed games.
INJURY UPDATE: Warriors coach Steve Kerr remains out indefinitely after having a spinal cord leak procedure to help alleviate complications from back surgery about two years ago. It was reminiscent of the bloodbath against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the first round.