The Golden State Warriors entered the Western Conference Finals looking to reach a second-straight NBA Finals that would help cement their status as one of the greatest teams of all-time. After a 3-1 start for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 73-win juggernaut faced three-straight elimination games to keep their dream season alive. They will now enter a highly anticipated finals rematch with the East champion Cleveland Cavaliers having proven their ability to overcome adversity, defy extreme odds, and continue to win with the sort of three-point shooting that the sport has never seen before.
The Warriors followed their thrilling Game 6 win in Oklahoma City on Saturday night with another memorable victory at Oracle Arena on Monday, defeating the Thunder 96-88 to become back-to-back Western Conference champions for the first time in franchise history. Golden State struggled early to put up a postseason-low 42 points in the first half but dominated the third quarter 29-12 to take control. The Thunder made a valiant effort to get back into the game in the fourth quarter when the result looked decided, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were too good throughout. The Warriors are now the first team to go down 3-1 in the conference finals and come back to make the NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics in 1981.
Curry (7-of-12) and Thompson (6-of-11) followed the latter’s record-setting 11 three-pointers in Game 6 with 13 of the Warriors’ 17 total three-pointers. The greatest outside-shooting duo in league history made several extremely tough jumpers and carried the Warriors through several weak offensive periods, keeping pressure on the Thunder when they could have taken control early. It was only fitting that Curry came through with the series-winning dagger, making this three-pointer in the final 30 seconds to give the Warriors an insurmountable lead:
Their reward is a quick turnaround for Thursday’s NBA Finals Game 1 in Oakland. Cleveland will pose a different challenge for Golden State after gliding through three sub-contender opponents in the East, and the Warriors will not be able to rely on the successes of last year’s series now that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love figure to be fully healthy for this matchup. Regardless, the Warriors will enter the finals with the full confidence that they can overcome any challenge that an opponent throws their way.