1. Golden State
First round: defeated Houston, 4-1.
First round: defeated the Clippers, 4-2.
Season series: Warriors, 3-1
Key stats: Even with Stephen Curry missing Games 4 and 5 in the opening round, the Warriors won those two games by an average of 30 points per game to eliminate Houston, showing that they have a lot more going for them than just Curry. Damian Lillard hit the Warriors for an average of 36.5 points and 6.5 assists per game in the four regular-season encounters.
Outlook: Every conversation will eventually veer back to Curry and when his sprained right knee will become healthy enough for him to play in this series. The timetable the team provided could mean the presumptive back-to-back MVP returns for Game 4 or 5, or perhaps sooner. Meanwhile, the Warriors have and will carry on without the game’s greatest shooter. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have stood tall in Curry’s absence, as have the rest of Golden State’s confident role players. Lillard and backcourt partner C.J. McCollum may have just elevated themselves into recognition as the second-best backcourt in the league behind Curry and Thompson. Lillard and McCollum are the primary offensive weapons for the Trail Blazers. But center Mason Plumlee and forwards Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu proved to be worthy competitors in the series against the Clippers.
Prediction: The uncertainty of when Curry will return and how he’ll perform after so much time off makes it tough to pick the number of games, but . . . Warriors in six.
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner