By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)-Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green embraced this playoff run less because they spent the past two years watching the postseason instead of their familiar position chasing championships.
Now, with experienced faces and new stars, the Warriors will head to another Western Conference Finals and only need four more wins to give them another chance at the title.
They will rely on the experience of Curry, Green, Thompson and Kevon Looney who have been here many times.
“It’s unbelievable knowing what we’ve been through these last two years and six of the last eight we’ve had a chance to play for the finals,” said Curry, who has led his team to five consecutive finals. from 2015-19. “I think, Draymond, Klay, Loon, we’ve been in this position before. We understand the emotions, the adrenaline, how you want it, how hard it is. … Never ignore and understand that this is all, and then for us to have another opportunity to get four more wins and play for a trophy, that’s special. ”
For Thompson, it means a lot as he returned in January from more than 2 1/2 years spent recovering from surgeries on his left knee and right Achilles tendon.
Golden State racked up 70 rebounds-22 by Looney after Curry and Green pushed him to be a starter again-to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 110-86 on Friday night and now move on to face the Suns or Mavericks. in the best-of-seven war for the West. Game 7 of the series this Sunday in Phoenix to determine who is next for the Warriors.
Thompson scored 30 points with eight 3-pointers to add another Game 6 masterpiece to its long list.
“I don’t know. I have no idea,” he said, “I like the moments. I like the pressure. I like playing basketball at the highest level.”
New faces like Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have played many roles in this postseason run. Golden State also suddenly had a lot of people at home at the Chase Center, where the Warriors are 6-0 so far in the playoffs.
And it feels like the old Oracle Arena these days.
“I think these fans know what our opponent is,” Green said. “We’ve all talked about the home court advantage and how it’s not Oracle and you have to rebuild the home court, and I think we did. A good job of it. But our fans it was so amazing tonight.It took everything we had to win the game, including the fan support and the noise that was in the arena.
This time, Splash Brothers Curry and Thompson can be released on their own floor, while their own fans sing “Whoop that trick.”
They love every second of that. Golden State continues, the Grizzlies will return to Memphis for good.
The Warriors definitely suffered their share of the drama and unexpected tension to get to it.
Golden State competed with two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic in a five-game first-round series with the Nuggets, then lost to Ja Morant and Memphis in a series full of repetitive conversations between opponents. The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors in a play-in game last season.
First, Gary Payton II fell for the remainder of the postseason with a broken left elbow due to a hard foul by Dillon Brooks that led to a game suspension by the Memphis star for Flagrant 2 that occurred when he hit the Payton’s head while driving. for the layup in Game 2.
Morant was injured in Game 3 and accused Poole of re-injuring his troubled right knee by pulling it while they were fighting for a loose ball.
Coach Steve Kerr was caught with COVID-19 and sat in Games 4, 5 and 6 with Mike Brown the acting head coach of both teams at once since he was recently selected by the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
“What a heck of a series,” Brown said.
While Kerr’s return date remains uncertain, Brown led the Warriors to a 12-1 mark filling during the playoffs. That included an 11-0 win in their 2017 championship run with Kerr sidelined then facing debilitating symptoms that were a complication from back surgery two years ago.
“Mike B. is one of a kind. He’s a player coach. He was a good leader. He loves the game, ”said Thompson. “He will miss us next year obviously. But we will welcome Steve back with open arms. He is our leader.”
Green was accompanied to the postgame podium with son DJ as the do-everything forward shared the story of watching the playoffs from Cabo San Lucas this time last year, acknowledging, “It’s nice to feel like I’m back.”
“I used to take it for granted and just think that is the way it is supposed to be, we’re supposed to make the Western Conference Finals,” Green said. its appreciation. Very difficult. It feels like every time it gets harder and harder and harder.
“And to miss the playoffs the last two years, I remember sitting in Cabo last year watching the playoffs and don’t get me wrong, I love Cabo, it’s nice to be in the place watching the playoffs, but brutal look. ”
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