Warriors

Warriors

OAKLAND - The Toronto Raptors were still celebrating on the Oracle Arena floor about 45 minutes after a 114-110 win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals clinched their first title in franchise history. 

Toronto's celebration in the Bay Area spilled through the arena's North Tunnel, through the hallway that zig-zags adjacent to the press conference room in the bowels of the league's oldest building. 

"I don't want to see this," Warriors coach Steve Kerr muttered as he walked past a celebration similar to the ones he participated in three of the last five years, into a summer of uncertainty. 

As Kerr and the rest of the Warriors began their offseason journey, the team finds itself at a crossroads. In four months, they'll open the glitzy Chase Center in San Francisco with a radically different roster, effectively closing the chapter on their East Bay roots and their current state as a franchise. 

"I don't know," Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. "It's pretty raw right now. It's just strange knowing that this is the last night ever at Oracle." 

Six hours before Game 6, Warriors forward Klay Thompson posted two pictures to his Instagram of his injured teammate Kevin Durant, saying "I need you to reflect on the fact that we would not be in this position if it weren’t for this man and his sacrifices. He’s the reason there are banners hanging in the rafters of Oracle." 

 

Durant's torn Achilles was just the latest on a battered roster. Two months before Durant's season ended, DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad muscle, returning hobbled in time for the Finals. Kevon Looney, Thompson, and Andre Iguodala all missed postseason games due to injury. With 2:22 left in the Thursday's loss, Thompson - who finished with 30 points - tore his ACL

Perhaps Thompson's social media post was prophetic. He and Durant are Golden State's top free agent priorities in the next month and both find themselves in the midst of a six-month-plus recovery timetable, with Durant expected to be out all of next season. Adding to Golden State's conundrum, Cousins and Kevon Looney will be free agents and the team will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell.

With Shaun Livingston contemplating retirement and center Andrew Bogut heading back to Australia, Golden State's roster is expected to look drastically different in the coming months. 

"There's a lot of decisions that will go into the summer," Warriors guard Steph Curry said. "And we'll deal with those accordingly. I think true champions like we are, we should be able to adapt and keep this same kind of DNA no matter what our roster looks like next year," 

Throughout their dynastic run, the Warriors have exuded confidence in uncharted waters. That quality lived through Draymond Green in the minutes following Thursday's loss. Among the first players out of the locker room, he walked the same path Kerr would walk minutes later, holding court with former NBA players Chauncey Billups, Kendrick Perkins, Jalen Rose and Raptors guard Danny Green. His confidence extended to the podium, where he refused to call one of the NBA's best runs dead. 

"I think everybody thinks it's kind of the end of us," Green said. "But that's just not smart. We're not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn't our year, but that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it's the end of a run and all that jazz. I don't see it happening though. We'll be back."

"[I] have high hopes about being back on this stage," Curry added. "Whether it looks the same or not or obviously we're changing buildings and all that type of stuff, there is going to be some change."

On Thursday, the Warriors and Oracle gave a glimpse of yesteryear. Bay rappers Mistah Fab, Too $hort, G-Eazy and E-40 put on a pseudo Summer Jam style concert during halftime. Curry and Thompson combined for 51 points, with Curry missing a chance to take the lead in the final seconds.

 

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The crowd, sensing elimination, even churned out its best performance of the season, evoking memories of the deafening tone that permeated through the beginning of the Golden State's run. 

"Epic, it was just an epic effort," Kerr said. "An incredible will to win, to defend their crown. It's amazing. They're amazing. It's just incredible. The effort and determination of our group and just how hard they played night after night after night and how much they care about each other. The commitment is beautiful to watch." 

Thursday night also marked a crossroads for the franchise. As the team ventures across the San Francisco Bay next season, its roster and standing among the league's best could look drastically different. 

"Hopefully every fan that was in this building appreciates the journey and the ride," Curry said. "And every fan that was watching how Oakland held us down for 47 years, and turn the page to bigger and better things coming for this franchise."