Star trio leads Warriors to sixth NBA Finals spot in eight years
SAN FRANCISCO (AP):
Klay Thompson drained the three-pointers. Draymond Green anchored the defence and even chipped in on the offensive end for a change. Stephen Curry capped off an MVP performance.
The trio that led Golden State to so much success in recent years is whole again and has the Warriors in position for another title after advancing to the NBA Finals with a 120-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
“Like I’ve said over and over again, I’m going to keep saying it: No one has proven that they can move us off that spot,” Green said. “That’s the mindset we come into this thing with. We understand what it takes to win a championship.”
The triumvirate of Curry, Thompson and Green is in rarefied air in NBA lore as the core of a team that has made it to six NBA Finals in an eight-year span. It’s an accomplishment only the greatest groups have reached, with Bill Russell’s Celtics of the 1950s and 1960s, Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the 1980s and Michael Jordan’s Bulls of the 1990s doing it.
Now the Warriors hope to add a fourth title to the ones they captured in 2015, 2017 and 2018 when the Finals start June 2 against either Boston or Miami.
“We’re happy to be here, but it would help our legacy a lot if we completed the mission and won the whole thing,” Thompson said.
The last time the Warriors made it to the Finals, they fell short, starting a two-year spiral filled with losing and injuries. Thompson tore his left ACL during a season-ending Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant tore his Achilles’ tendon earlier that series and then left for Brooklyn that summer, leading to the Warriors finishing an NBA-worst 15-50 in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.
Thompson then tore his right Achilles’ tendon just before the start of the next season and the Warriors were unable to make it back to the play-offs, getting knocked out by Memphis in the play-in game.
But Thompson returned in January and the combination of the ageing trio of stars, with an infusion of youth from players like Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and others, has Golden State back at the top of the league again.
“We never lost the faith, but you understand how hard of a process it was going to be to climb the mountain again,” Curry said. “I think, internally, we are all extremely proud of what it took to get back here. Yeah, it’s definitely sweet, based on what we went through.”
Thompson led the way in the clinching Game 5 win of the Western Conference finals over Dallas, making eight three-pointers for a record-setting fifth time in his play-off career and scoring 32 points.
Green added 17 points, six rebounds and nine assists to go along with his usual defensive brilliance, and Curry had 15 points and nine assists as he was named series MVP.