BOSTON — The Golden State Warriors find themselves in a position they’ve encountered many times before: one win away from an NBA championship.
Entering the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the past eight years, a tinge of cautious optimism pervaded the Warriors’ locker room as they led Boston 3-2 in their Game 6 series on Thursday. But they also made it clear that no one was celebrating yet, and they weren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“If you think about something that doesn’t even exist yet, you’re hurting yourself,” Klay Thompson said.
The Warriors struggled in the final game of this postseason, failing to close every series they’ve played with a first chance — all on the road.
Waiting for their stake in the next game against Boston will only make the game more difficult.
Andre Iguodala said: “Holding is probably the hardest game you’ll ever play.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he doesn’t see a common denominator for Golden State’s losses.
Maybe it’s more about the survival instincts of their opponents. Before Game 4 of the opening round, Denver’s Nikola Jokic said he didn’t think his team deserved to be swept when they were down 3-0 in the series. That prompted the Nuggets to win Game 5. In the second round, Memphis overtook the Warriors from the start. In the conference finals, the Mavericks hoped to avoid sweeping, just like the Nuggets.
On the Warriors’ three failed closing chances, they trailed by double digits at the half. They managed to stay close in the first quarter, but the second became a big problem, especially against Memphis and Dallas.
The Golden State Warriors also had problems defending the perimeter. In those three losses, Warriors opponents shot 53 of 115 (46.1 percent) from beyond the arc. That could pose a problem for the Celtics, as Boston hit 317 3-pointers this postseason, the most in a single playoff season in history.
Games 4 and 5 in this series were the Celtics’ first consecutive losses since the loss to the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat in late March. Before that, they hadn’t dropped back-to-back games since January.
“we know [the Celtics are] “I’m going to play with desperation,” Thompson said, “so it’s going to take our best effort all year to get to or above that level.”
As the Warriors wrap up the series against Denver, Stephen Curry said Golden State may have forgotten the guts it takes to end the series, especially at the start. This trend also continued in the Western Conference semifinals and Western Conference finals. But right now, the Warriors rely heavily on not just their playoff experience, but title-winning games.
“You just have to understand what nerves are like,” Curry said. “We understand the details of how we need to handle the game from a physical point of view, the adjustment of our game plan from Game 5 to Game 6, understanding the feel of the building, that energy, getting ready for it.”
Curry said he would remind himself and inexperienced teammates to get into the game. But after that, it’s about the mentality the Warriors have been preaching all season: stay locked in to what’s happening in front of you.
“At the end of the day, once you’re out, you have to live in the moment,” Curry said. “You have to be there as much as you can and not worry about the consequences of winning or losing. The only chance you have is those 48 minutes. The more you can trick your brain into being in the moment and staying there, that’s in this situation. , the best advice I can give anyone because it’s going to be the toughest game of your career because of what the stakes are.”