In-flight meeting paved the way for Warriors
OAKLAND, California (AP):
As the Golden State Warriors made the long, frustrating flight home from Oklahoma City last week, suddenly facing elimination from the NBA play-offs, Draymond Green gathered with teammates at a table in the front of the plane to discuss how to get the defending champions back to winning and fast.
"We just kept talking about what we needed to do and what we were going to do," Green said.
Six days and three straight victories later, the Warriors are headed back to the NBA Finals for a rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the title defence still very much within reach. Game 1 is tomorrow at Golden State.
"We never lost confidence, and, every game, just played with fearlessness and that confidence that we could get back to the finals, however we had to get it done," MVP Stephen Curry said after his 36-point performance in Monday night's 96-88 clincher of the Western Conference finals.
"I knew we were ready for the moment. We were a mature basketball team that tried our best not to listen to the noise outside when six, seven days ago, we're down 3-1. Everybody thought the wheels were falling off and it was kind of the end of our run," Curry said. "But in that locker room, the talk was positive. It was, 'Let's figure this out, let's go out and take it one game at a time and claw our way back into the series and see what happens.' We followed that kind of mindset these last three games."
In the aeroplane sit-down, Klay Thompson was clear he could only focus as far ahead as winning Game 5 before shifting to think about how to win another one on the Thunder's court. Golden State's most steady player in the play-offs, he hit an NBA post-season record 11 3-pointers for 41 points in a thrilling 108-101 Game 6 comeback, then another six on Monday on the way to 21 points.
Even after two embarrassing, lopsided road losses at Oklahoma City that put the Warriors in a big hole, Green counted on them finding a way to come back. He believed it would happen, "Because once we figured something out, we can get it rolling."