After a clean sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors are headed back to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year.
Golden State now awaits the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.
While the Warriors earned the top seed in the West, both the Bucks and Raptors posted better regular-season records than the defending champs, meaning Golden State will begin the NBA Finals on the road regardless of who comes out of the East.
How did the Warriors fare against the East's top two teams in the regular season? They won just one of four games, with two of the three losses coming at home by 20+ points.
For more context, let's revisit each of the four of the meetings between the Warriors and the East's best…
Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors (Raptors won season series 2-0)
Nov. 29, 2018, at Toronto: Raptors 131, Warriors 128 (OT)
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were out for the Warriors, but this game was an instant classic.
With Golden State down two starters, all eyes were on the one-on-one matchup between superstar forwards Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, and it didn't disappoint.
Leonard finished with a team-high 37 points (on 14-24 shooting) and eight rebounds, a performance that was only outdone by Durant, who finished with a game-high 51 points (on 18-31 shooting), 11 rebounds and six assists. Down the stretch of the game, the two were matched up with one another, going blow-for-blow as Durant hit a shot only he could to send the game into overtime.
It was Pascal Siakam that took over in the extra frame, as he scored seven of his 26 points (on 8-10 shooting) on the night in the five-minute period to help the Raptors earn a five-point win. Serge Ibaka finished with 20 points, Danny Green added 13 points and Kyle Lowry flirted with a triple-double (10 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds).
For Golden State, Klay Thompson (23 points) and Jonas Jerebko (20 points) were the only other players to score in double figures in the game. A 12-point advantage came from beyond the arc, as the Warriors shot 11-for-30 (36.7%) while the Raptors were 15-for-38 (39.5%) from deep.
Dec. 12, 2018, at Golden State: Raptors 113, Warriors 93
Less than two weeks later, Iguodala was out but both Curry and Green were back in action. The Raptors were now without Leonard in addition to Norman Powell, who also missed the first meeting with a shoulder injury.
Despite missing their leading scorer, Toronto put forth a dominant performance, leading by as many as 26 points cruising to a 20-point win on the road. Lowry led the way in Leonard's absence, scoring a team-high 23 points to go along with a team-high 12 assists. Serge Ibaka (20 points), Danny Green (15 points), Pascal Siakam (13 points) and Fred VanVleet (10 points) each scored in double figures.
This Raptors team looked much different, as they had yet to acquire Marc Gasol and still featured Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and CJ Miles. While the aforementioned trio played a significant role, Toronto's win was greatly impacted by the core that remains intact.
For the Warriors, Kevin Durant led the way with 30 points (on 13-22 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists while Curry had an uncharacteristic night, scoring just 10 points (on 3-12 shooting) in 32 minutes of action. Klay Thompson added 14 points (on 7-17 shooting) while Draymond Green scored two points, dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds.
3-point shooting was again a key stat as the Warriors shot 6-for-26 (23.1%) while the Raptors were 9-for-28 (32.1%).
Toronto also forced 19 turnovers, converting them into 17 points in the game.
Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Season series split 1-1)
Nov. 8, 2018, at Golden State: Bucks 134, Warriors 111
Less than a month into the regular season, the Bucks visited ORACLE Arena with an opportunity to hand a shorthanded Warriors squad their first home loss of the season.
With an inactive list that already included DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston - Stephen Curry exited the game after 26 minutes with an adductor strain that would leave him sidelined for the following three weeks. Without four key players, Golden State was led by 24 points (on 9-15 shooting) from Klay Thompson while Kevin Durant scored 17 points (on 5-16 shooting), dished out a team-high nine assists but also committed six of the Warriors 18 turnovers.
Milwaukee, who took a 13-point lead into the break, used a 41-point third quarter to blow things open and take a 26-point lead into the game's final frame. Eric Bledsoe paced the Bucks offence with 26 points and six assists while MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Malcolm Brogdon (20 points), All-Star Khris Middleton (17 points, six assists), and reserve Pat Connaughton (15 points) were the other Bucks to finish in double figures in the win.
Dec. 7, 2018, at Milwaukee: Warriors 105, Bucks 95
A month later, the Warriors were still without Cousins and Green, but it was Curry's fourth game back from the aforementioned adductor injury, and he made his presence felt.
Golden State's All-star point guard scored 20 points and dished out eight assists, connecting on four of his nine 3-point attempts. Thompson matched Curry's scoring output with 20 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds and four steals in 35 minutes of action. While Durant scored just 11 points (on 3-14 shooting), he added eight rebounds and six assists. In a starting role, Andre Iguodala finished with 15 points and eight rebounds while knocking down half of his six 3-point attempts.
Iguodala was one of five Warriors to sink at least three triples - the team finished the game shooting 19-for-46 (41.3%) from beyond the arc, while the Bucks shot just 7-for-39 (17.9%).
On a night when they shot cold as a team, Milwaukee was led by 22 points (on 8-13 shooting), 15 rebounds and five assists from Antetokounmpo - all team-highs. Brogdon added 15 points (on 5-12 shooting), Bledsoe and Brook Lopez added 14 points apiece and Khris Middleton scored 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Led by nine points from Pat Connaughton, the Bucks second unit combined to score 20 points (on 8-28 shooting) but the team looked much different as they had not yet acquired George Hill and Nikola Mirotic.