Playoffs 2017: West Finals -- Warriors (1) vs. Spurs (2)

Golden State Warriors focused on completing sweep of San Antonio Spurs

Warriors can earn third straight trip to NBA Finals by earning third straight 4-0 series win

Fran Blinebury

SAN ANTONIO — It’s always said that close-out games in a playoff series are the toughest. But in winning back-to-back sweeps in the first two rounds, the Warriors had no trouble dropping the hammer.

Golden State finished off the Trail Blazers 128-103 in Portland and never gave the Jazz a flicker of hope in a 121-95 whipping in Salt Lake City.

Now that the Warriors have the wounded and depleted Spurs down 3-0, the goal is to not waste a chance to end the Western Conference finals as soon as possible and move on to a possible title rematch with the Cavaliers.

“Yeah man, we want to finish it off, want to come out here and not have any let-ups,” Kevin Durant said on Sunday. “The last two game 4s in the other series, we played well and wanted to keep going. And we want to be better than (Saturday) night. We watched the film and seen we were a little bit too relaxed, just not playing with the edge we played with in Game 2. We did it in spurts, but not the whole game.”

Durant led the way with 33 points on 11-for-19 shooting and 10 rebounds and took control in the third quarter when he went on a personal 13-0 tear. Center JaVale McGee subbed as a starter for the injured Zaza Pachulia and get the Warriors out of the gate quick and wound up with 16 points.

“We can play better and hopefully we’ll do that tomorrow,” said Stephen Curry. “It wasn’t a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination. KD did what he did in the third, which was huge for us. JaVale gave us a huge effort in the first half and we had some timely runs which allowed us to build momentum. But there are a lot of things we have to clean up to have a solid 48 minutes.

“Any road game is tough, especially when their backs are against the wall and they want to leave it all on the floor. They’ll probably play with a lot of pride and energy, so we’ll have to play Warriors basketball for 48 minutes. If we play like we did yesterday and don’t get spectacular performances from those two guys, it could have been a different game. We’ve got to play better.”

The Warriors want to shore up their rebounding, where they were beaten on the boards 46-42 in Game 3 and allowed the Spurs too many extra opportunities by turning the ball over 21 times.

San Antonio’s All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard (sprained left ankle) is doubtful to play, but the Warriors still figure they’ll have to earn their third straight sweep in the playoffs. The Warriors became just the third team in NBA history to open the playoffs 11-0, matching the Lakers of 1989 and 2001. The 1989 team lost in the NBA Finals and the 2001 team won the title.

The Spurs have been swept just twice in the playoffs under coach Gregg Popovich, by the Lakers in the 2001 Western Conference finals and the Suns in the 2010 Western Conference semifinals.

“We know this team is not gonna just lay down for us,” said Warriors acting coach Mike Brown. “The building’s gonna be energized. The group’s gonna be ready to play. So we have to come out and make sure we play the right way.”

“You know what the Spurs are about,” Durant said. “They play 48 minutes. They play tough, play hard, execute their system and the crowd is one of the best in the league, best in sports. They’re gonna bring energy. They got a lot of pride. We can’t come out here and feel like we won already before game starts. We got to take it.”

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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