Steph Curry, Warriors on Brink of NBA Finals Berth After Game 3 Win vs. Blazers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2019

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 18: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts to a play against the Portland Trail Blazers during Game Three of the Western Conference Finals on May 18, 2019 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors took a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals with a 110-99 win at Moda Center in Portland.

Trailing 66-53 at the half, the Warriors outscored the Blazers 29-13 in the third quarter to take control of the game.

With Kevin Durant out for a fourth straight game, Stephen Curry once again stepped up for Golden State. The two-time MVP scored a game-high 36 points and shot 6-of-16 from beyond the arc.

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Klay Thompson chipped in with 19 points, while Draymond Green filled up the box score with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals.

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Damian Lillard struggled in the first two games, shooting 10-of-28 from the floor. This issues continued into Game 3, as the Blazers star had 19 points and missed 13 of his 18 shot attempts.

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CJ McCollum added 23 points to the losing effort.

        

Re-Signing Klay Thompson Should Be the Warriors' Top Offseason Priority

Nobody truly doubted Thompson's value to the Warriors as he heads for free agency, but it seemed fair to wonder whether he might relish the opportunity to be the top star elsewhere. Earlier in May, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take that the five-time All-Star might be growing tired of being the third option in Golden State's offense.

Nick Friedell of ESPN followed up by reporting the Warriors are feeling good about Thompson potentially sticking around the Bay Area for the long term: "The simple fact is that the Warriors love Thompson and Thompson loves being a Warrior."

Golden State is clearly better with Durant healthy, and the team should make every effort to keep the 10-time All-Star if he opts out of his contract. In a perfect world, Thompson and Durant will stay in the fold heading into next season.

If push comes to shove, this series is driving home exactly why Thompson—not Durant—should be the star Golden State must re-sign above any other. 

The Warriors systematically tore Portland apart in the second half. As soon as the they stared chipping away at the Blazers' lead, everybody knew how the game was going to end. And that happened with the core of stars responsible for one ring and an NBA-record 73 regular-season wins before Durant arrived.

Look no further than Lillard's numbers to see Thompson's impact on the defensive end.

He didn't have a great night on offense, shooting 8-of-20 from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. The Warriors were also minus-one with him on the floor, per ESPN.com. The last figure could be attributed to the fact Steve Kerr threw Thompson out to lead the second unit for stretches.

Take Durant out of the mix, and the nucleus of a championship-winning squad remains. General manager Bob Myers and majority owner Joe Lacob shouldn't lose sight of that fact when the time comes to formally offer Thompson a max contract.

Along with that, the team shouldn't hesitate to communicate to Thompson exactly how much he's valued in his current home.

          

What's Next?

The Blazers host Game 4 on Monday, with tipoff scheduled for 9 p.m. ET. Even if Portland comes out on top to push the series to five games, it's likely delaying the inevitable with the Warriors one win away from a fifth straight NBA Finals.

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