The tide kept rising, and rising, and rising, until a sneaker wave came in and just dragged Portland out to sea. This loss was inevitable, as the Warriors are just relentless. Portland played three quarters of damn near flawless basketball and still lost by eleven points.

For three quarters, it was beautiful. A lead as many as seventeen, an eleven point lead heading into the final frame, a Portland team that had found its rhythm and was on the attack. For every Golden State run, the Blazers had an answer. Until they didn’t. Until the Warriors put together one of the most impressive quarters you’re likely to see and ran Portland straight out of the gym. The champs stay the champs.

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Goddamn, the Blazers were that close. They weren’t even supposed to be here, yet still almost took home a win. To be so close and still get blown out? The sting of this loss is going to stick.

In a complete role reversal from game one, the Blazers were the ones that jumped out to the early lead. Damian Lillard and Al-Farouq Aminu hit a couple of threes. CJ McCollum was firing away. The defensive gameplan switch, with Moe Harkless guarding Klay Thompson and Dame on Harrison Barnes, seemed to be working perfectly. It was 19-5 in an instant.

The Blazers first quarter couldn’t have gone much better—Aminu racked up ten points, the Blazers got some easy dunks out of the pick and roll, and Klay was missing from deep. The Blazers had more rebounds, more assists, and were the more aggressive team. The 66% clip from both the floor and deep didn’t hurt, either.

It was all about pace. The Blazers kept pushing and pushing and pushing, picking up some easy fouls for all the speed. With just four minutes gone in the second, the Blazers were in the penalty. CJ was still on one. Portland’s lead swelled to 45-28.

It wasn’t until Barnes threw down a couple of rim-rattling dunks that the Oracle crowd finally woke up. Portland held tight to an eleven point lead amidst the noise, but against the Warriors a double-digit lead might as well be a tie. As it often does, Portland’s offense then predictably cratered. After everything was clicking so well early, the Blazers missed eight straight shots and Golden State kept coming. A 14-2 run got the Warriors to within five.

But it was all Dame out of the timeout. He hit a three and picked up a steal and foul for two freebies at the line. As they did for three quarters, the Blazers responded to Golden State’s run with one of their own. It was 59-51 heading into the half.

Portland started the third with six straight empty possessions, their first point coming on a technical free throw. Once again the Warriors were knocking, but once again Lillard was there for the answer—dude straight took the game over. Dame was cooking. After Klay hit a three, Lillard came right back to the other end and knocked down a step-back triple of his own that hit front rim and bounced in. His next three, right as the third quarter buzzer sounded, gave him seventeen for the period. Portland held tight to an eleven point lead going into the final frame.

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But then the Warriors happened. The inevitable Warriors. Festus Ezeli was dusted off for some huge defensive minutes, Draymond Green owned the restricted area, and the screws were tightened tight. The Blazers were plagued by turnovers due to the cramping Warriors defense, and when they weren’t turning it over, Mason Plumlee was being humiliated at the rim by the Golden State shot blockers. It was a slugfest, with both teams throwing haymakers, but the Blazers eventually ran out of gas. Those tough shots that were falling earlier starting bouncing out. The Warriors found that extra gear.

After an impeccable third quarter, Dame was held scoreless in the final frame. Klay Thompson finally found his range from distance. The Blazers had done so well to counter all of Golden State’s runs, but the final one was too much. The crowd came alive, the Golden State defense came alive, Frampton came alive, and the Blazers were dead in the water. It was tied at 91 with six minutes left. The Blazers lost 110-99, getting outscored 34-12 altogether in the fourth.

The Blazers just aren’t ready for this stage yet. They played amazing basketball...until they didn’t and the inevitable Warriors wave swept away all good will. This wasn’t even a moral victory—there are no moral victories in the playoffs. The Blazers will need some good luck and some home cooking to try and steal a game. The Warriors haven’t lost to a team twice all season. They haven’t lost two games in a row. Winning four of six is going to be impossible, so now it’s all about avoiding the sweep. I mean, if the terrible Rockets were able to take a game, the Blazers have to be able to win one as well, right?