The Golden State Warriors made history all season but this was the most dramatic: becoming the third team ever to be down 3-1 in conference finals, to win three must-win games back to back to take the conference championship.
It was probably the broadest team effort of the playoffs for the Dubs, with significant contributions--and highlights--by players coming off the bench for a few minutes at a time. Once again, Klay Thompson's 3s kept them in the game when OKC had its runs in the first half. But as I suggested would happen, Steph Curry was dominant in the second half, and close-out time. He was back to being himself, with confident drives to the basket and quick sidesteps to give himself just enough room for his 3s--he had 7, which is a new game 7 record, naturally. Klay had 6, which also breaks the previous record. It was Curry's 3 that sealed the deal with a half minute to go. The final score was 96-88. Curry had 36 points.
The Warriors had to come back from a 13 point deficit, and their 3s were the difference. The bench plus Klay brought them back in the 3rd quarter, and Curry took over the 4th.
The NBA championship series begins Thursday in Oakland. against the Cavs. The conference championship means this historic season won't be forgotten. Four more wins assures it.
When Cleveland was throttling them in the finals last year, the Golden State Warriors went small, and the Cavs didn't have an answer. In the Western Finals this year, the Thunder were too long for the Dubs smalls. So down 3-1, the Warriors went big. And won game 5 at home. In the sixth game in Oklahoma, they went big again (except when they didn't) and won their second elimination game in a row--this time in a hostile environment.
That sixth game played a few hours ago was the most important game of the season, and some are saying it was the best Warrior game of the season, and more. It will grow in glory if the Dubs win the series by winning the next game at home.
Klay Thompson was key to keeping it close for three quarters, though the Thunder were ahead, often by double digits, for most of the game. The Dubs were still down with only a few minutes in the fourth between them and done. But Thompson's 3s, Curry's 3s, the defense of Green and Iguodala, and the fourth quarter belonged to Golden State. So did the game. These last two games were also strategic victories for Steve Kerr's coaching.
Game 7 on Monday in Oakland. Playoff experience as well as home court are big advantages for the Dubs. Klay Thompson broke the single game record for 3s in the playoffs with 11, scoring 41 points. Thompson has been the Dubs' MVP of the playoffs so far. Now it's about time for Steph Curry to have one of his shooting nights (though 31 points tonight was crucial.) The table is set.
Can't say I'm a big fan of Fox Sports but this story on the 6th game is prime. And a follow-up piece in USA Today on the place of this game in NBA history. Plus more on the crucial defensive contribution of Iguodala.
Earlier in Colorado, the San Francisco Giants were leading 4-1 on the strength of Madison Bumgarner's pitching and Buster Posey's 3-run homer in the first. Plus some stellar defense. But as much too usual the bullpen couldn't hold the lead, and the Rockies went ahead 5-4 in the 7th. But the Rockies bullpen wasn't much good either, and Buster Posey's 3-run homer in the 8th was the big blow but not the last. The Giants won 10-5. Variables in the game: Coors Field, the weird wind changes and a strange strike zone. Good to see the Giants' bats wake up in this hitter friendly park. Bumgarner didn't add to his 6 wins, but the Giants have now won 11 times when he starts.
On Friday, the Giants' first game in Colorado started very badly and got worse. Matt Cain, finally back to form as a starting pitcher, left in the second with a hamstring strain, and on Saturday went on the DL. The Giants lost 5-2. What's with the Giants and their hammies? At least they aren't in another concussion epidemic.
Hunter Pence came back on Saturday, which might have meant that Buster saw better pitches. Jarrett Parker played left again, and continues to show a strong arm. He was also part of the 8th inning rally. If he doesn't go yard on Sunday the trip will be a missed opportunity, but if he can hit breaking balls better he's got a future with SF, and a late season role.
It's been awhile since I've mentioned my Pirates. They also have been hot, winning 10 out of their last 12. Buster Olney at ESPN writes that they might just be getting started--they're strong and getting stronger-- and are real competition for the Cubs. To read exactly why Buster believes this you have to pay your bucks to be an Insider, which I don't and ain't.
And speaking of Pittsburgh, congrats to the Penguins, who came back to win their series and will play in the finals for the Stanley Cup.