Disappointed Warriors vow to get back to NBA Finals stage
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Draymond Green wants to maintain the momentum from a special season that fell short by competing in the Rio Olympics. Klay Thompson plans to take his mind off basketball and missed chances entirely and go watch brother Trayce play baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stephen Curry’s toddler daughter, Riley, helped the crestfallen MVP begin to put things in perspective by telling him “It’s OK” to lose.
Not one of Golden State’s All-Star trio plans to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals again any time soon, if ever.
“No need,” Green said.
While Green is eager to immediately move forward, Thompson was despondent a day later, still at a loss for words to describe how the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to squander a 3-1 Finals lead and miss out on a second straight championship that was there to be had.
“We’ll be there again. You’ve just got to realize how bad it hurts and why winning is so good,” Thompson said. “It was very disappointing just because we know how good we are. We feel like we’re still the best team in the world. We let that slide. It hurts right now. I can’t tell you when the disappointment’s going to fade, but it will.”
The best team in regular-season history with 73 wins, Golden State succumbed to a determined LeBron James and the Cavaliers 93-89 on Sunday night as Cleveland capped a remarkable comeback for the franchise’s first title - doing so with three straight victories, two at typically intimidating Oracle Arena - and to end the city’s 52-year championship drought.
“To sit and dwell on it, that’s not going to do anything for me,” said Green, who sat out the Game 5 defeat while suspended for flagrant fouls. “I’m not going to sit and throw a pity party for myself or my teammates or anybody else. We were a minute away from winning a championship. We had a 3-1 lead, we had all the opportunities in the world we needed. Got to take your hat off to them. They fought, they battled and they took the series. It’s nothing to sit around and cry about. It’s something that you learn from.”
A downtrodden locker room was a strange sight for this “Strength In Numbers” group, which relied on its deep bench right along with the shooting touch of Splash Brothers Curry and Thompson and Green’s emotions and physical play on both ends of the court.
“We’ve had so many moments of joy together, and it was like, `Wow, we’re actually having a moment of sorrow as a team,”’ Coach of the Year Steve Kerr said. “It’s a great reminder that, first of all, it’s not easy to win a championship. But, as I said, it’s life. Things happen. You move on.”
Curry, for one, can’t do that just yet. He will spend the summer thinking about what went wrong, what more he could have done to change the outcome.
“You look at the history of the league, it would have been really nice to be in that group of teams that repeated,” Curry said, “creating that year-to-year special accomplishment. ... The teams that have fallen short found a way to come back stronger.”
While Green plans for the Olympics, Thompson is “exhausted” and said he had planned to compete in Rio but is no longer certain. Curry already recently opted out of playing for the United States, needing to rest his weary body.
Thinking about this series will be “probably the theme of the summer.” Golden State lost as many games in the postseason - nine - as it did in a 73-win regular season while breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for victories and he will appreciate “a special journey, a special ride” in spite of the finish.
He woke up all night long in disbelief.
“It was very surreal just sitting in your bed, staring at the ceiling and realizing that the season was over,” he said.
The first unanimous MVP, Curry knocked down a record 402 3-pointers this season before his up-and-down playoffs began with the frustration of a first-round ankle injury and then a sprained knee. He was far from his best in the Finals, and doesn’t need to hear it from anybody given he is his own worst critic.
“That’s something that I’ll have to deal with. That’s my own expectation and my own kind of self-assessment,” he said. “I don’t need anybody else to tell me that. I don’t need to listen all summer to analysts breaking down why I didn’t do this, why I didn’t do that. My team didn’t win. I didn’t play my best. That’s not going to be the end of the story. That’s just going to be a down chapter in the book.”