Russell Westbrook drives to the lane at MSG (278832)
Credit: Contributed

There have been no sweeps, early departures from any of the four Western Conference first round of playoffs, but several series have been challenging.

The San Antonio Spurs, seeded 7th are giving the Denver Nuggets, seeded 2nd, all that they can handle as they try to advance to the next round. Denver is up 3-to-2. They play tonight, Game 6 in San Antonio, and Saturday in Denver if necessary.

Surprisingly, the 1-seeded Golden State Warriors are also experiencing difficulties with the 8-seeded L.A. Clippers. Last night’s game, in their building, didn’t end well for the Warriors, a 129-121 loss.

Golden State could have closed out the series, but a Lou Williams’ double-double, 33 points and 10 assists and the 24 points from Montrezl Harrell, both off the bench, was troublesome for Golden State. They had no answers to slow them down. Their shots weren’t enough. Their threes went cold.

Williams describes the Clippers play as, “A mix of arrogance and hard work.” They get to mix it up again tomorrow, Friday in L.A. and on Sunday back in the Warriors building if needed.

The Portland Trail Blazers have already retired the Oklahoma Thunder for the season, 4-games to-1. The series pitted two of the NBA’s best guards, Damian Lillard (Portland) against Russell Westbrook (OKC) in a classic match-up, but Lilliards box score totals were stronger.

In five games, Lillard averaged 33 points per, dropping 50 on Tuesday night, a career-playoff high, hitting a 37-foot jumper at the buzzer, one of his 10-threes on the night breaking Portland’s franchise record for the 118-115 win at home.

The crowd chanted, “MVP, MVP.”

Portland also received strong output from guard CJ McCollum who averaged 24.4 points, with two game highs of 33-points in Game 2 and 27 in Game 4.

Westbrook contributed one of his two triple-doubles of the first round series logging 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. In Game 1, he had 24, 10 and 10. Russell also dropped two double-doubles, one in Game 2 the other in Game 3.

Portland advances to the second round to play the winner of the Nuggets-Spurs series when it concludes. Like Nuggets-Spurs, both Golden State verses L.A., and Rockets verses Jazz series are just one win away from also advancing to the second round.