Almost exactly one year ago, Steph Curry gave fair warning to the rest of the NBA not to count out the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors had just lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the league’s new play-in tournament, their second straight season falling short of the playoffs, when Curry warned that the version of the team that had made the NBA Finals in five straight seasons was coming back. His prophecy proven correct with the Warriors returning to the NBA Finals after knocking off the Dallas Mavericks in a tidy five games, Curry is shedding new light on the statement.
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When the Warriors lost to the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament last season, the future of the franchise looked far from certain. Klay Thompson was just starting to ramp up into on-court activities after his second major injury over a two-year span, the supporting cast was surrounded by question marks and the Warriors were still just one year removed from having the worst record in the NBA.
But Curry saw the Warriors as a team close to returning to full form, and issued a warning to the rest of the league.
“You don’t want to see us next year,” he said in the final postgame press conference of the season.
The statement has been repeated often throughout the Warriors’ run through the playoffs this year. Curry revisited the statement after winning Game 5 on May 26, saying it was really intended to keep his own teammates focused.
“It was more just a message for us,” Curry said, via ESPN. “It wasn’t for anybody else. It was a message for us to stay locked on the opportunity that was coming our way because we had built such a good momentum finishing the years, reestablishing what Warriors basketball was.”
Thompson’s Return Fuels Warriors
Curry carried much of the load as the Warriors returned to the NBA Finals, winning the first-ever Western Conference Finals MVP and averaging 23.8 points, 7.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds while hitting 43.9% from 3-point range. But Thompson’s presence may have been the difference from last year, when Curry’s brilliance still wasn’t enough to push the Warriors into the playoffs. Thompson scored a game-high 32 points on Thursday while making 8 three-pointers.
For Thompson, it was the culmination of three years of hard work while rehabbing from back-to-back major injuries.
“I dreamt about this day,” Thompson said, via ESPN. “Just my appreciation for moving my body again, I thought about that. I thought about those days I couldn’t run or jump, how lucky we are to do what we do. Just to be here again wearing this [Western Conference Champion] shirt, wear this [NBA Finals] hat, I mean, I dreamt of this.”
Eliminating Dallas in a gentleman’s sweep has now earned the Warriors six days of rest before starting the NBA Finals, which could be critical given injuries to Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr.
Kerr said on Tuesday that Porter was still sore after suffering a foot injury in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals and that the team was taking a cautious approach so they didn’t jeopardize his future availability. Payton, who has been out since suffering a fractured elbow against the Grizzlies, is expected to return at some point during the NBA Finals.