Steph Curry, the Warriors are on the hunt for trophies again

SAN FRANCISCO — Those weren’t tears from Klay Thompson, but the emotion was evident, and Stephen Curry couldn’t contain his satisfaction as the night wore on, both enjoying the moment and the not-so-subtle cursive adorned with gold. “trophy hunt” written on his pre-game and post-game outfit.

Draymond Green slicked and flexed like a much younger man, then quickly handed over the Western Conference’s Oscar Robertson trophy seconds after receiving it.

“I’m not one to hold trophies. First, it’s heavy,” Green said.

Lourde is the head that wears the crown – even though it was three years later and so many twists and turns since their maiden voyage that made the Warriors a fixture in June.

Month Six reveals which NBA teams are surviving, outperforming and outperforming the competition. It’s the sixth time in eight years that these warriors – or some variant of them – have become one of the last two standing.

The Dallas Mavericks were the most recent team whose dreams were crushed by a blue and gold reality, a 120-110 crowning glory that felt less like a Game 5 competition but a chance to celebrate in the new building whose walls were built on the back of sweat equity across the bridge.

The Warriors are back in the NBA Finals not just because they’re talented, but because of the habits and championship standards built, fortified, and reinforced through the obscurity of the past three seasons — an almost stubborn belief or arrogant that they could come back at this point. without changing who they were.

Control themselves in the chaos and know they wouldn’t break while opponents faded from Curry’s eyes. He won the inaugural Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award, with his biggest contribution coming from what happened around him, not him.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates after the Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in San Francisco on May 26, 2022, to advance to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The imprint he placed on this play was evident in the way the others performed – Thompson shimmy after a three-way one pass behind Green’s back, Andrew Wiggins crashing for a weak side dunk or Jordan Poole again displaying toddler-like feet in the little real estate below the basket.

Perhaps the closest thing to on-field magic since Earvin, he almost played on cruise control most of the night, preferring to give up space to teammates who found a sweet spot and stayed there but got danced to his rhythm.

“The new trophy is pretty cool, especially after who it’s named after,” said Curry, who scored 15 with nine assists after entering the night averaging 26 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists. in the series. “The standard that Magic has set in terms of being a champion and playing point guard [and] whatever other position he played.

The secret Magic had, aided by Jerry West and Pat Riley, was to assimilate into the system – be it Showtime or whatever it will be called in the annals. Curry found it, duplicated it, remixed it with the power of his presence.

The result?

Win time.

“He’s our driving force offensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Everything revolves around him. We have a lot of great players around him and guys who go well together. It all starts with Steph.

As the big wild card advances, everyone follows suit – a lesson likely learned from Mavericks prodigy Luka Doncic, who went through the full gamut of expressions and emotions on the ground that his teammates seemed to roll with.

Riding the wave in a knockout game is dangerous, but even more so when the Warriors are determined to play like them and are hungry to taste what the next round has to offer.

Thompson was eager to transfer the powers of Game 6 Klay to Game 5, not wanting to have fun any longer than necessary – not just because they need the rest before the start of the final round next Thursday, but leaving things to chance leaves room for interpretation. , and he prefers to keep it simple.

Catch, shoot.

Eight triples and lamenting missing two, scoring a series-high 32 points after going 31 in the last two games combined.

That’s why the moment nearly overwhelmed him, the journey of two major injuries and the cycle of NBA life settling around his feet in the meantime. The Warriors knew it wasn’t promised — not because of the threat Dallas or Phoenix would pose if they got this far, but getting to this point lends itself to more satisfaction than your usual decorated champ.

“I dreamed about it every day,” Thompson said. “All of these emotions kind of rushed through me, and I thought about our training staff, those days, me and Rick [Celebrini, Director of Sports Medicine and Performance] were together in Santa Cruz. They would tell me it would pay off.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Chase Center in San Francisco on May 26, 2022. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Chase Center in San Francisco on May 26, 2022. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

Rehab is ugly, and rebuilding sure isn’t cute, no matter how easy it is to press the button to relieve the strain, stress, and fatigue of high-level competition. There’s a difference between play to play, playoff basketball, and championship ball.

Thompson went through a grueling rehab and gained appreciation just to walk again so he could return to grueling, tiring and mentally challenging basketball knowing there’s a good chance he won’t be as good as before.

You torture yourself so you can position yourself for grief.

The day-to-day decisions that he made, the day-to-day decisions that Curry made to keep this team up to championship standards with the energy of the championship were intentional – making the choice not to pursue the MVP-level individual season that he had last year but getting lost in the process of (maybe) June is next to impossible given the odds.

So the joy in that moment, not even lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy but the Oscar Robertson trophy, was special.

“I can pretty much go into any show and know what it feels like because we rely on those experiences so much,” Curry said. “It’s like time has stood still where you kind of understand what real basketball looks like in the playoffs.”

Memories are heavier than trophies. He remembers not being himself against Cleveland in 2016, or just starting to figure things out in 2014 when the then-foes Los Angeles Clippers knocked them out before the calendar turned to May.

He wants to break you, sitting comfortably behind the carefully crafted image. Being the most conditioned athlete in the NBA has one goal: to leave you helpless and breathless while he’s breathless and pressed with inertia.

“Understand more than 48 [minutes], I’m going to find some gravity that you can show on the floor, shoot other guys, get yourself down,” Curry said. “It’s hard in terms of work that it takes all summer, every day all year round to take care of your body.”

It’s old hat and new hats for the Warriors, who have found ways to stay motivated and disciplined when history and so many other factors make it difficult.

Damn, they celebrated.

“I think we’re very experienced at this point in our careers,” Thompson said. “And we are ready for this challenge because whoever comes out [of] this Eastern Conference is going to push us.

Back to school in June, trophy hunting.

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