The Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals on their home floor last night, marking their sixth trip in the past eight seasons. Still, this one carries some extra weight for the Warriors, who were written off by many after the 2019 season.
Warriors 120, Mavericks 110
Series: GSW WINS 4-1
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 27, 2022
Those were the words of Warriors forward Draymond Green as he made his way to the Golden State locker room following a series-clinching victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in the bay. After five consecutive NBA Finals appearances and three titles, the Warriors missed the playoffs altogether each of the last two seasons, mainly due to injuries to their core. But the core is healthy again, and the Warriors – a team that once seemed like a Death Star to the rest of the NBA – are now fully operational again. As Draymond Green said last night, very few can beat this team when the core is whole.
“I’ve always said all along no one has proven they can beat us yet when we’re whole. That’s still the case.”
Draymond scored 17 points and added nine assists and six rebounds while shooting a near-perfect 6-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. The veteran big told said last night that this trip to the NBA Finals – the sixth in eight years – has a bit more meaning than the rest. After Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn and Klay Thompson went down with an ACL injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, people began to write up the obituary for the Warriors dynasty.
“After being counted out — dynasty is over, all of those things — to get back here, it’s fantastic,” Draymond said. “It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication and to an incredible organization. We continue to stick with it, show what we’re capable of.
“This one feels great. But got four more wins to get.”
Green and the Warriors are basking in this one a bit, and deservedly so. When they walked off the floor at the Oracle Arena in June of 2019, the future of the team and the core was murky. Stephen Curry echoed Green’s sentiment on Thursday night. Curry logged 15 points and nine assists in last night’s victory and averaged 25.9 points per contest in these playoffs.
“This one is very sweet just because of where we were in 2019,” Curry said. “We never lost faith, but you understand how hard of a process it was going to be to climb that mountain again. … 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.”
Last night was probably no more special for anyone than for Klay Thompson. The other half of the famed Splash Brothers led the way for Golden State, scoring 32 points while knocking down eight triples, leading the Warriors back to the Finals. Things have come full circle for Thompson, who blew out his ACL the last time he was in the Finals, an injury that would cost him two seasons of his career after he ruptured his Achilles while rehabbing from the ACL repair. Thompson wasn’t just good on Thursday; he was historically good.
Klay Thompson posts his 5th career playoff game with 8 made 3-pointers, breaking a tie for most in NBA history.
After splashing 8 threes in the closeout game last round vs Memphis, Thompson is the 1st player to have multiple series-clinching games with 8 triples in their career. pic.twitter.com/LzVKV990Fj
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2022
As for the Mavericks, they will be back in these Western Conference Finals. Despite looking like a savvy veteran on the floor, Luka Dončić is just 23-year-old, and his five-year, $207 million extension kicks in next season. Dončić carried the Mavs this postseason by putting up video-game-like numbers night in and night out. Luka finished with 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and nearly two steals per contest. The future of hoops in Dallas is in good hands with Dončić leading the charge, and the young superstar knows it.
I think we are a young team,” Dončić said. “I think this year we made a huge, huge step, maybe a couple of steps. I think we are in a great way. Obviously, there’s a lot of things to do, but I think like I say, we made a huge step, and I think we are on a great path.”
Of course, the Mavericks have some hurdles to clear this summer. Jalen Brunson’s impending free-agency will be a significant focal point. The rest of the offseason will be spent cultivating a roster around their young start Luka Dončić, which will hopefully help shoulder some of the burdens in Dallas’ next playoff run.
Until then, it’s the Warriors world in the Western Conference, and they reminded us all of that last night.
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