Warriors advance to the NBA Finals with Game 7 win over Thunder
OAKLAND – Before the series, after a Game 4 loss, and before the contest on Monday night with the Thunder, Steve Kerr was the epitome of calm.
It is accurate to say he’s been here before. Kerr won five NBA Championships as a player and last year led the Warriors to their first title since 1975.
Even though it was his first Game 7 of a playoff series as a head coach, there was no shaking the Golden State’s leader.
“You can be nervous, you can be overhyped, you can be excited,” said Kerr of his team’s upcoming “Win or Go Home” game with Oklahoma City. “But the thing is you just remind yourself its a game. Keep it simple.”
His confidence and calm before the game translated to the seventh and deciding contest against the Thunder. Even though his team trailed most of the first half, they were unfazed when it counted.
The Warriors blew off a six-point halftime deficit, outscored Oklahoma City by 17 points in the third quarter then held off the Thunder for a 96-88 victory at Oracle Arena Monday night. It’s the third straight victory for Kerr’s Warriors after falling behind in the series 3-1, making them the third defending champion in NBA history to rally from that deficit to advance.
For a second-straight year, the Western Conference championship earns the Warriors a date in the NBA Finals with the Cavaliers. Game 1 in Oakland is set for Thursday night.
Stephen Curry took charge with 36 points including seven three-pointer while getting help from Klay Thompson, who also had 21 points on the evening. Both players were particularly strong in the third quarter when the Warriors outscored the Thunder 29-12 and gave themselves the lead for good.
Oklahoma City would claw back in the fourth quarter and got the lead down to four with 1:39 left after a hoop by Kevin Durant (Team-High 27 points). Curry would finish off the Thunder with a trio of free throws and then his seventh and final three-pointer of the evening with 26 seconds left to send the yellow-clad crowd into a frenzy.
Following an NBA record 73-win season, Golden State has passed another test in trying to earn the right to be called the greatest team in NBA History. But don’t count on Kerr sweating that out too much as LeBron James and the Cavs come to town.