Why Warriors stay confident despite 3-1 NBA Finals deficit vs. Raptors

Why Warriors stay confident despite 3-1 NBA Finals deficit vs. Raptors

TORONTO — Canadian rapper Nav's “Champion” reverberated throughout Scotiabank Arena about 10 minutes into Warriors practice Sunday afternoon. In the song's chorus, Travis Scott croons, “We got the trophy like a champion,” capturing Golden State's collective mood heading into an elimination Game 5 on Monday night.

Throughout the Warriors’ five-year run, they have been loose in the face of elimination, and despite being down three games to one in the NBA Finals against the Raptors, the two-time defending champs’ confidence hasn't wavered.

"I feel great," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "We still have an opportunity to go out and win a series, and that's all you can really ask for."

Green's conviction comes from experience. Three years ago, down three games to one to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors won three consecutive games to earn a Finals berth.

While the stakes are similar, Golden State's current series comes with some variants. Because the Raptors finished with a better regular-season record, they hold home-court advantage in the series, meaning the Warriors must win two of their next three games on the road.

"Every series is different," Green said. "It takes on a life of its own. But most importantly the same message that was applied then should be the same message that is applied now."

Despite the differences, like Oklahoma City three years ago, Toronto has dominated the onset of the series. In 16 total quarters, the Warriors have outscored the Raptors just three times. DeMarcus Cousins, who missed nearly two months with an injured quad, is shooting just 30 percent from the field. The Warriors’ bench, which struggled throughout the regular season, ranks second to last among playoff teams in scoring at 25 points per game.

In Game 4, despite controlling the first half, the Warriors surrendered a 20-6 run to the Raptors over the final five minutes of the third quarter, helping Toronto take a 79-67 lead into the fourth, pushing the series to the brink. Two days later, the Warriors’ mantra went from making history to something different.

"It's just a matter of, can you win one basketball game right now?" Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. "Can you go out tomorrow, play an amazing 48 minutes, quiet this crowd that's going to be probably unbelievable tomorrow, and slow down a team that's been playing amazing, especially these last two games, and just win one basketball game and take it from there? And if we focus on that mission, our history kind of speaks for itself in terms of being able to get that done.

”Just win one basketball game, and then we'll worry about the rest."

The Warriors were in a similar situation in 2016 against the Thunder. Through their first three wins of the series, Oklahoma City beat Golden State by an average of 19.3 points, including a 118-94 Game 4 home victory to take control of the series.

Following the loss, Curry averaged 32.7 points, 7.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds over the last three games to help the Warriors win the series. Now, Curry has an opportunity for a repeat performance.

"No matter the outcome, our preparation from adjustments within our team to adjustments we have to make on the fly," Warriors guard Andre Iguodala said. "Guys are locked in and ready to go."

Reactions from each team following Game 4 are an easy indicator of how they function. While the Raptors walked off the Oracle Arena floor with a focused silence, the Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA titles, maintained an air of confidence. Prior to Sunday's practice, the champs talked strategy and even joked with media members as the music played.

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By the end of practice, the Warriors were boosted by the news that Kevin Durant was upgraded to questionable for Game 5. Now, they will continue their quest for another trophy.

"The mood is good," Kerr said. "We have an amazing opportunity and challenge. We're going to do everything we can to meet that challenge. We're excited about it."

NBA rumors: Warriors' Kevon Looney possible Rockets free-agent target

NBA rumors: Warriors' Kevon Looney possible Rockets free-agent target

Warriors big man Kevon Looney will become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. And unlike last summer, Golden State will have to give the 23-year-old more than the minimum to re-sign him.

There will be a market for Looney, and the Houston Rockets are expected to be a suitor.

As Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote on Tuesday night:

As it stands, [the Rockets] have no cap room and are limited to the midlevel exception (annual salary starting at $5.7 million).

A source with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans said Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez and Kevon Looney are also possible targets.

The Dubs have Looney's full bird rights and can give him a max contract if they wanted. That obviously won't be happening, but the point is they aren't limited financially in terms of what they can offer like they were last summer.

In Golden State's memorable Game 6 win in Houston last month, Looney recorded 14 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 20 minutes.

The No. 30 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft sustained a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture on the right side of his chest during Game 2 of the Finals in Toronto. His expected recovery time is six to eight weeks, which means Looney should be at full strength when training camp opens up in late September.

You should expect the Warriors to make it a priority to re-sign him.

“Looney has become one of our foundational pieces," Golden State head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on May 22.

And now, they're going to have to show him the money.

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Kevin Durant all smiles roaming around New York after Achilles surgery


Kevin Durant all smiles roaming around New York after Achilles surgery

Kevin Durant isn't expected to play in any NBA games next season, but he's not letting that dampen his mood.

Nearly two weeks after having surgery to repair his right Achilles tendon, Durant is up and roaming around New York City with the assistance of a knee walker.

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Tony Durant, Kevin's brother, posted that image Tuesday evening of them walking around SoHo.

Immediately after the Golden State Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, Durant flew to New York City and had Dr. Martin O'Malley perform the Achilles surgery.

With the start of free agency just days away, rumors have started swirling about Durant's mindset as he approaches his big decision.

On Monday, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported that Durant was "pissed" with the Warriors for their role in his injury. But a day later, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is no such rift between Durant and the Warriors.

[RELATED: Two teams have backed off Durant]

Based on the new image, Durant appears to be in good spirits.

We'll find out in the next few days if Durant will bring that smile back to the Bay Area for the next five years, or if it will stay in New York City for the next four.