Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green add to Warriors Big Three lore
SAN FRANCISCO — All Klay Thompson could do was smile, turn his head slightly to the right, and whistle in appreciation. With the Warriors’ 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night at Chase Center, Golden State is now one win away from its fourth championship in the last eight seasons.
The victory also added to the legacy of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Warriors’ Big Three now have 20 Finals wins together, surpassing San Antonio Spurs legends Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the most Finals wins as an All-NBA trio in the past 30 years. .
“These three are some of the greatest to ever play,” Thompson said. “I feel like they played my whole life, my whole childhood. To be mentioned in the same company as them is humbling.
“It won’t mean much unless we get another win. It’s great, but it would really add to our legacy if we close this deal.”
The Spurs drafted all three Duncan, Parker and Ginobili — Duncan with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Parker near the end of the first round and Ginobili in the second. The Warriors also added their line to the draft. The Minnesota Timberwolves passed Curry twice and he was convinced he had to be a New York Knick before the Warriors selected him 7th overall. Thompson was taken with the 11th pick and Green, like Ginobili, is one of the greatest draft steals of all time after also appearing in the second round.
Duncan won the title in his second season. Curry didn’t win his first until his sixth season. Duncan’s first championship came before Parker and Ginobili arrived, and those three shared four rings together. Curry’s three rings came with Thompson and Green at his side.
The Warriors led by Curry, Thompson and Green are in their sixth final in the past eight seasons. They need just one more win to join Spurs led by Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.
That next win is all that matters to Curry. Once he sat down on the entire podium for his post-match press conference, the previous 20 wins were a thing of the past. The No. 21 jumped to the front of his tune-up.
“We want to have one more to show off and one more win, and really embrace what we’ve accomplished to be back on that stage,” Curry said. “Obviously making six finals you have a lot of opportunities. You enjoy every single one of them. So, you know, this series is no different.
“And one more win, I just have to find a way to do it.”
The Warriors in Game 5 did it in a way they didn’t have all series.
Curry in the first four games averaged 34.3 points. After his 43-point performance in Game 4, Steph had scored 137 points overall. Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors’ second-leading scorers, had combined to score 135 points. Curry was shooting 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-pointers. But in Game 5, he only scored 16 points and went 7 for 22 from the field.
His streak of making at least one 3-pointer in 233 consecutive games between the regular season and the playoffs has finally come to an end. The game was changed by No. 30, and that stat says it all.
Finally, the Warriors, including his two longtime teammates in Klay and Draymond, were there to get Steph back. Thompson scored 21 points, made five 3-pointers and continues to save his best for the defensive end after missing two and a half with two horrific leg injuries. He also became the third player in history to make at least 100 career 3-pointers in the Finals, joining Curry and LeBron James.
Green played what he called an “excruciating” Game 3 in the Warriors’ loss and spent four key minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 4 before falling late for the win. Right off the bat, Green turned up the volume on Monday night in San Francisco. He scored four total points in two games before and hit that mark in the first four and a half minutes of Game 5. Before he fouled out three minutes from time, Draymond wasted eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal. Offensively and defensively, his strength was felt and it trickled down to the rest of the Dubs.
The Celtics’ Big Three, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, are now shooting 25% from the field and 14% from behind the 3-point line in five games when guarded by Green.
Steph ignites everything, however. Even on a night out, he still led both teams with eight assists and was a plus-15 plus-minus. On defense, he was nothing short of spectacular, showing off his elite conditioning and making the Chase Center floor his personal track. His only poor shooting performance now sees him average 30.6 points on 46.6% shooting and 41.7% from 3-point range. That adds up to 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
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For years, the Warriors didn’t shy away from following the Spurs pattern of sustained success. With this, the focus is on the Wiggins trade and young warriors like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman.
Don’t forget who started it all. Steph, Klay and Draymond might as well already have statues in front of the Warriors’ gleaming new arena. Their shirt numbers should be hanging from the rafters the moment they decide to retire. The job is not done yet and they know it.
That’s what makes them so elite. There will be time for it all to sink in eventually. For now, the Warriors’ latest victory is another reminder of the quality of this special trio, while still locked in on one more victory to qualify as champions for the fourth time.
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