OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors didn’t let themselves or their hometown fans down. The champions beat the Oklahoma City Thunder with a decisive 120-111 victory on May 26 at The Oracle to stay alive in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
Facing elimination, the Warriors will now play the Thunder in Game 6 on OKC’s turf this Saturday, May 28. The defending champions can still reach the NBA Finals by winning the last two games, the final match of the series back in Oakland on May 30.
“Draymond (Green) set the tone after the last game like, ‘Look, we’ve accomplished a lot this year, played through some adversity, with or without the 73-9 season, and we’re not ready to be done. We can do it,’” Klay Thompson said following the Warrriors’ win. “It’s just one game at a time.”
Thompson had 27 points, five rebounds, and two assists while Stephen Curry added 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals for the Warriors, who now trail 3-2 in best-of-seven series. Green had 11 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocked shots for Golden State. Andrew Bogut contributed 15 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocked shots for the Warriors.
Golden State made 31 free throws out of 34 attempts. Curry and Thompson were a combined 19-for-20 at the charity stripe while Marreese Speights made all five of his free tosses.
“The difference in the game was the fact that they went to the free-throw line 34 times. That was difficult to overcome,” OKC head coach Billy Donovan said. “I also think our inability to finish around the basket when we had a chance to, coupled with the free throws, were certainly a difference in the game.”
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 40 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Durant didn’t have a problem at the free-throw line. He made all 13 attempts in the nearly 45 minutes he was on the floor. Westbrook ended up with 31 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Durant and Westbrook combined for 59 of OKC’s 91 shots from the field.
“That’s who we are,” Durant said about the high-volume of shots from the duo. “That’s what we do and that’s how we play. Like it or not, if I make four more shots and Russell make five more shots…and we’re not really talking about it. We can’t say nothing when we miss and we don’t say nothing when we make them.”
The Warriors lead 25-21 after the first quarter. despite turning the ball over five times. The Thunder shot 7-for-24 from the field in the first quarter, but only had one turnover.
In the second quarter, Anthony Morrow, who once played for the Warriors, got OKC’s shooting on track by scoring seven of the Thunder’s eight points in four minutes. All outside shots.
The Thunder cut the lead to one-point on two occasions, but the Warriors would later increase the lead to eight points three different times, the third to make it a 58-50 halftime lead.
Draymond Green got a technical foul early in the third quarter, which set off a fire for the Thunder. OKC rallied back to cut the lead 60-59 on a basketball Serge Ibaka.
After scratching and clawing with the Warriors, the Thunder finally got the lead at the 6:40 mark on a trey by Westbrook. Golden State regained the lead and went up by four point on a three-point play by Green.
The Warriors jumped out to a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter to command a lead 91-81. Speights got in the act by scoring five points, the latter on a 3-point play to increase the margin 96-83 for the Warriors.
The Thunder kept answering with 3-pointers, two straight by Ibaka and another added by Durant after he made two free throws to get OKC within five points. The Warriors responded by kicking the lead to 112-101 on a three-point play by Curry with 1:02 left to play. OKC never got closer than six point the rest of the way.
A 3.9 percent chance to eradicate a deficient is not what an NBA team want in the playoffs. The Warriors is well aware that the odds are against them. Only nine teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 hole in a playoff series out of 232 teams that beeb in the situation.
“They don’t want it to end, and no matter how you look at it, if you’re not the last team standing, it’s tough,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has never lost three games in a row. “It’s a disappointing way to go out. So we want to hang in there. We want to win the next two and get back to the Finals.”
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, forward Draymond Green and guard Klay Thompson have been selected to the 2015 All-NBA Team. Curry was named to the First Team.
Green garnished Second Team Honors while Thompson received a Third Team position. The Golden State trio is the first to be named in one season since 1955-1956.
Paul Arizin, Neil Johnston, and Jack George were the last Warriors to be selected as a three-player unit. Curry is the first Warrior to make three consecutive All-NBA since Chris Mullin (four straight).
Green also made the 2015-2016 NBA All-Defensive First Team, his second straight for the Warriors. Green was the runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting for second consecutive season.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer