Pelicans end the season with a 103-100 win over the Blazers

Again, that's nearly always the huge Warriors edge in any series: They have multiple guys who can guard your best perimeter players, and they have more risky weapons than most teams can guard. Durant has returned to the lineup in the past week though, making the starting five even more lethal and offering head coach Steve Kerr even more flexibility on defense.

While the odds are stacked against them and he was clearly baited into predicting an upset, Lillard likes being the underdog.

Golden State made quick work of the Blazers in the second round of last year's playoffs as well, advancing to the Conference Finals in just five games.

The Golden State Warriors were the first team to clinch a playoffs spot this season, and they come into the Playoffs as the best team in the league once again.

Two-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, last year's NBA Most Improved Player, have both averaged over 23 points per game during the regular season.

National Basketball Association teams that win Games 1 and 2 in a seven-game series go on to win the series 94% of the time.

The other teams rounding up the West are: Houston Rockets (No. 3), Utah Jazz (No. 5), Oklahoma City Thunder (No.6), Portland Trail Blazers (No. 7) and Memphis Grizzlies (No. 8).

Should the Warriors overcome Portland to advance to the second round, they will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Utah Jazz.

As shown in the full Blazers' 2017 schedule, the team did not do very well against the Warriors during the 2016-17 National Basketball Association season. He was dealing with foot issues that caused him to spend the past several games in a boot on the bench but is apparently fine for this series. He was at 35.1 percent going into the game. Nurkic was a difference-maker once he arrived from Denver and played a big role in the playoff push despite eventually winding up with a right leg fracture.

Namely: If you can't defend the perimeter or in transition, then the Warriors are probably going to shoot and run you off the court just as rapidly as Stephen Curry can take two dribbles and then bury a 27-footer.

It's a tough straw for Portland, but they'd rather be here than on the outside looking-in.

The offensive powerhouse will be the team to beat with their formidable combination of 2017 NBA All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Role players Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, and Anderson Varejao are also still with the team; there's turnover everywhere else on the roster.

In four games against Golden State this season, Harkless shot 5-of-15 from deep, while Aminu shot 3-of-14 in the three games he played. This is a man on live television basically saying he thinks his team is going to win. "Biggest key for me, I make good progress, I have still time so we'll see".

"Through everything that went on with our team, we're in a position where we can do something special still", he said Thursday as Cleveland prepared to face in in the opening round on Saturday.

  • Julie Sanders