LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Pausing to reflect on their historic fifth consecutive Finals appearance should be an easy task for the Warriors.
After Golden State put away the Portland Trail Blazers in a 4-0 sweep of the Western Conference finals on Monday, Golden State kicked off an extended idle hour. With the Eastern Conference finals scheduled through May 27, Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 30.
“Get outside,” Warriors All-Star Klay Thompson said of his plans for the nine-day hiatus. “Hopefully it’s good weather in the Bay finally. Just enjoy – just enjoy the downtime, because the NBA Finals, having experience with it, it’s such an emotional roller coaster, that it’s nice to get away from the game a little bit before it starts because emotions run high, and it takes a lot out of you.”
Timing couldn’t be more clutch for Steve Kerr’s team, a pause in the chase for a fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy in five tries.
The Warriors’ next game will be No. 99 since beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the regular-season opener on October 16.
Playing down two starters, the Warriors are optimistic the R-and-R window will be plentiful enough for rest, relaxation and returns – of forward Kevin Durant and center DeMarcus Cousins. Durant missed the past five games with a calf strain and could resume on-court activities at the end of the week. Cousins hasn’t played since the opening series of the playoffs because of a quadriceps injury.
Andre Iguodala did not play in Game 4, but is pegged to be back on the court any day and a “sure thing” for the Finals.
“You know, when you’re missing Kevin Durant, you can’t replace Kevin with one guy. We had to replace him with three or four, night after night, and then (Monday in Game 4) without Andre, we had to find more minutes,” Kerr said. “I just can’t say enough about the competitive desire about the group of players that we have here and the culture that they have built together. You know, playing together regardless of injury. Being without Kevin (Durant) these last five games has put us in a really tough spot, and our guys stepped up in a big way.”
Curry roasted the Blazers on the heels of an MVP-type performance in the closeout game to eliminate the Houston Rockets. He has scored 30-plus points in five consecutive games, an epic run that piggybacks similar output by Durant for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Curry called Monday night a “special moment” to walk off the court with another fancy hat and a ticket to the Finals.
“There’s a different intensity in the playoffs just naturally because it’s win-or-go-home. We know how to find that next gear, and it comes with the experiences that we’ve been through,” Curry said. “It’s so hard over 82 games to elevate to that level on a nightly basis, but when it matters most, we have nights like tonight where we just find a way and take teams’ best shots and run with it. So proud of everybody that helped make this a reality to be back in the Finals, and four more wins, and you know, get back to celebrating.”
Kerr hopes the team and outsiders equally appreciate the current run from Golden State. The Warriors are the first team since Bill Russell captained the Boston Celtics to crash the championship series five consecutive years.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Kerr said. “You know, five straight Finals hasn’t been done since the ‘60s, since Bill Russell’s Celtics. Hasn’t been done for a reason: It’s really, really difficult.”