Warriors eliminate Jazz, sweep back-to-back series for first time ever (Anthony-NBA-ESPN)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Golden State Warriors swept the Utah Jazz to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third consecutive year following a 121-95 victory Monday night.

Along with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors are a perfect 8-0 this postseason. It’s the second time that two teams were undefeated entering the Conference Finals under the current playoff format (since 1983-84).

It was the first time the Warriors have swept two series in the same postseason.

Stephen Curry produced a game-high 30 points to go with five rebounds and seven assists. He was 4-for-10 from beyond the arc and connected on all eight of his free throws.

Draymond Green registered his third career postseason triple-double by way of 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He was also a dominating force defensively. Opponents were 5-of-15 from the field when he guarded them. He defended the most shots for the Warriors on Monday.

Klay Thompson chipped in 21 points to bounce back from a 1-of-9 shooting night in Game 3, while Kevin Durant followed up his 38-point Game 3 by adding 18 points and six boards.

The Jazz were clearly overmatched in this series. Rudy Gobert played banged up and starting point guard George Hill missed the last three games with a sore left toe. In these four games, they were beaten by an average of 15 points.

Utah coughed the ball up twice in the game’s first two minutes, handing over the momentum to a potent offense that jumped out to a 12-3 lead. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder called timeout. The arena went mute, and it would get worse.

The Jazz were routinely limited to one shot, suffering a 6-for-25 first-quarter outing that equated to a subpar 17 points. Green primarily initiated the offense by pushing it up court before the shot-blocking specialist Gobert could roam the paint.

It looked as if this contest would be over by halftime. Green said before the game that the Jazz wouldn’t just roll over and quit, and he was right.

The home team flipped the script in the second quarter, holding the Warriors to 17 points. What was once a 24-point Warriors’ advantage was trimmed to eight at intermission on the strength of a 35-19 run, fueled by former Jazz lottery pick Dante Exum. That run got the crowd back into the game.

After a Shelvin Mack triple cut the margin to seven with four minutes left in the third quarter, a timeout was called and Curry uncharacteristically kicked one of the chairs on the bench out of a frustration.

Utah refused to quit.

But the Jazz weren’t equipped to sustain the fight. Golden State closed the third on a 7-0 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating Andre Iguodala 3-pointer. The momentum was the Warriors’ and it would not be relinquished. The uphill battle continued when Utah lost Rodney Hood early in the fourth quarter with a right knee sprain after colliding with Durant.

Golden State’s lead climbed to 20, 25 and finally 26.

With the game nearly in the books, fans began chanting “Gordon Hayward, Gordon Hayward.” He’ll be a free agent come July 1.

The Warriors will now wait for the winner of the winner of the series between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. Those two teams are guaranteed to play at least two more games with their series tied at 2-2.


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