OAKLAND, California, May 12, (AP): Golden State booked its passage to the NBA Western Conference finals for a second straight year by beating Portland 125-121 on Wednesday, with newly crowned league MVP Stephen Curry hitting the sealing 3-pointer to complete a 4-1 series victory.
Klay Thompson scored 33 points with six 3-pointers, while Curry added 29 a day after becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. He also added 11 assists after returning to the starting lineup for the first time all series following a sprained knee.
“West finals two years in a row, it’s been a special, special season,” Thompson said.
In the Eastern Conference, Toronto moved within one win of a place in the finals by defeating Miami 99-91, led by a playoff high 34 points from DeMar DeRozan.
The Warriors got past Portland in the series despite playing without Curry for the first three games.
“We know what it takes to win in the playoffs,” Thompson said. “That might be the closest five-game series of all-time.”
Draymond Green, who had his left ankle re-taped in the fourth quarter, had 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Portland’s Damian Lillard scored 28 points and CJ McCollum had 27.
Now, Golden State will wait for the conclusion of the Oklahoma City-San Antonio series, led 3-2 by the Thunder. And the banged-up Warriors could use the time to get healthy. They lost 7-foot center Andrew Bogut for the second half because of a right leg injury.
Thompson shot 13 for 17 and became the first player to have at least five 3s in seven straight games, also recording his fourth 30-point game this postseason.
“Klay’s shooting was incredible tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Then the way Steph finished the game, that step-back shot to put it to a five-point lead was probably a shot only he can make. A gutty effort from a lot of guys. It wasn’t our best stuff, but we got it done.”
The Trail Blazers were 16 of 36 on 3-pointers.
Lillard, an Oakland native, was 7-for-24 shooting in his final game of the season back home in the East Bay.
“We should be proud of the way we pushed them,” Lillard said. “It could easily have been a seven-game series.”
At Toronto, DeRozan’s 34 points was complemented by Kyle Lowry (25 points) and Bismack Biyombo (10 points) as the Raptors positioned themselves to clinch their first conference finals berth with a win in Game 6 in Miami on Friday.
It was DeRozan’s franchise-best 13th 20-point game in the playoffs and his sixth this postseason.
Dwyane Wade scored 20 for Miami, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each had 13 and Joe Johnson 11.
Toronto led by 20 in the first half and by 13 to start the fourth quarter before its lead shrunk to 88-87 when Wade made a pair of free throws with 1:54 left. DeRozan made a pair of free throws and, after a Miami turnover, Lowry made a long 3-pointer to put Toronto up 93-87 with 52 seconds left.
DeRozan sealed it by going 4 for 4 on his free throws in the final 21 seconds.
DeRozan jammed his sore right thumb while fouling Miami’s Tyler Johnson with 8:19 remaining in the fourth. He headed to the locker room for treatment but returned four minutes later.
Lowry and DeRozan scored 19 between them in the first quarter as the Raptors raced out to a 28-18 lead. Wade was the only Miami starter to make a field goal in the first as the Heat had more fouls (eight) than made baskets (six).
Biyombo had eight points in the second, electrifying the crowd by sandwiching a pair of dunks around a huge block on Wade. Toronto led 55-35 with 3:39 left but Dragic scored eight points as the Heat used a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 55-45 at halftime.
Miami’s Luol Deng left midway through the third with a sore left wrist and did not return. The Heat said X-rays were inconclusive. Deng scored four points and missed all eight of his field goal attempts.
Shortly after, Toronto’s DeMarre Carroll injured his left wrist after being called for a charge, ending his night. The Raptors said X-rays were negative.
Wade scored seven in the third but DeRozan had 11 as the Raptors took a 75-62 lead into the fourth.