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The Warriors' return to the NBA Finals will take them to new heights

As of 2015, the Warriors have a 72-21 record and a perfect 18-0 streak mark against West foes in the playoffs. (Author: Gardener)

the NBA FinalsStephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and co. hit that extra level on Thursday, tearing the Mavericks apart with curls and back cuts, jumpers and dunks to record a 120-110 home win and the first team since Michael Jordans Becoming the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s to reach the NBA Finals six times in eight years. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and co. hit that extra level on Thursday, tearing the Mavericks apart with curls and back cuts, jumpers and dunks to record a 120-110 home win and the first team since Michael Jordans Becoming the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s to reach the NBA Finals six times in eight years. Dressed in head-to-toe black, the Warriors treated Game 5 like a formal dance, understanding the gravity of the occasion and executing their moves on cue. Dressed in head-to-toe black, the Warriors treated Game 5 like a formal dance, understanding the gravity of the occasion and executing their moves on cue. When the Golden State Warriors kick off, they make the defense look lost and scared, overwhelmed by their quick decisions and even quicker triggers. When the Golden State Warriors kick off, they make the defense look lost and scared, overwhelmed by their quick decisions and even quicker triggers. But when the Warriors get down to business, their harmonious movement renders their opponents invisible, and a high-stakes playoff game looks a bit like a pre-game walk-through in an empty gym. But when the Warriors get down to business, their harmonious movement renders their opponents invisible, and a high-stakes playoff game looks a bit like a pre-game walk-through in an empty gym. By winning the Western Conference, the Warriors completed a remarkable turnaround after two injury-plagued seasons after the departure of Kevin Durant, in which they ended 2019-20 with the league's worst record and missed the playoffs again in 2021. Curry, whose comeback from a sprained ankle in March fueled that playoff journey, was named the inaugural winner of the Magic Johnson Award bestowed on the MVP of the Western Conference Finals after averaging the series 23.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. "It's a moment to reflect on what it took to get back here," Curry said. We never lost faith, but you know how hard it would be to climb the mountain again.” After a troubled performance in a Game 4 loss just hours after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, rallied Golden State at home and sped out of the gate with a balanced attack. Kevon Looney opened the scoring from the inside, Thompson dumped a 3-pointer and Curry set up a dunk from Andrew Wiggins and hit a three of his own. Within four minutes, the Warriors were up 9 and their lead swelled to 17 at halftime and 25 in the third quarter. Despite a valiant comeback attempt in Dallas, Golden State held on to an overwhelming victory at the Chase Center. While Curry, who finished with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 9 assists, took a step back offensively to serve as orchestrator, Thompson and Green put on great performances to finish off the Mavericks. In the first half, Green found Thompson coming off the screen with a perfectly timed pass for a 3-pointer. Early in the second half, Green shoved the ball down the middle in transition and turned an extended behind-the-back pass to Thompson for another three-pointer. As the score tightened early in the fourth game, Thompson returned the favor and threaded a pass to Green for a basket in the suit. Thompson, who missed 941 days with knee and hamstring injuries before returning to the court in January, delivered the dagger by hitting his eighth 3-pointer of the night to give Golden State a 15-point lead 2:59 ahead to bring an end to it. He finished the game with a game-high 32 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. "I just started jogging again this time last year," Thompson said. Green added 17 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists, led Golden State's versatile defense and served as a key arbiter for the No. 1 offense in the playoffs. "This is a group that nobody thought could come back here," Green said. No one has proven they can beat us when we're whole. It still is. Never doubt our abilities.” The core Warriors trio received hugs from Kerr as they were treated to a standing ovation from the home crowd as they checked out of the game with the win in hand. Curry enthusiastically waved his towel as the final seconds ticked by, clapping towards the crowd while donning an NBA Finals hat with his teammates for the post-game trophy presentation. Former Warriors guard Shaun Livingston presented the Western Conference championship trophy to Green and the rest of his former teammates. Green later lifted Curry off the floor as the crowd chanted "M-V-P!" Golden State went 9-0 at home in this playoff, with all three of their closeout wins coming at the Chase Center. As of 2015, the Warriors have a 72-21 record and a perfect 18-0 streak mark against West foes in the playoffs. It's a level of play that reminds coach Steve Kerr of the Bulls teams he played on with Jordan and Scottie Pippen that won so many titles in the 1990s. "The common denominator is just talented players who are fierce competitors," Kerr said. Unless you have that kind of competitive spirit and that kind of skill together, it's just not going to happen six times in eight years.” Dallas, a surprise entry in the West Finals after upsetting the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, has been doing well. Luka Doncic led Thursday with a team-best 28 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, and Spencer Dinwiddie added 26 points, including five 3-pointers, from the bench. Doncic provided a frantic third-quarter rally that reduced Dallas' deficit to 8, but as the series progressed his unique talent was eclipsed by Golden State's advantages in experience and depth. "I'm really proud of this team, everyone, every player, every staff member," said Doncic, who vowed to keep working on his defense in the offseason. They were obviously the better team.” Doncic got reporters laughing on Friday when he said he was taking about a week off after Dallas lost to Golden State in the Western Conference Finals, making it the longest season in the End the young superstar's career. The question will not be a joke when Doncic is asked how much he weighs when the training camp opens in about four months. The 23-year-old's condition and how the roster suits him will be the hottest topics offseason as the Mavericks attempt to build on their first trip after the first round of the playoffs since their lone championship 11 years ago. "Basically, I haven't stopped playing basketball since the start of the last NBA season," Doncic said after a 120-110 loss to the Warriors in Game 5. "I'll probably take a week off from basketball and then start playing again . If you're not healthy, you won't play.” Or in his case, if you're not in shape, you won't play well. Doncic was criticized for this early in the season — and acknowledged it was an issue — as he struggled with his high standards and the Mavericks slowed under Jason Kidd, first-year coach, point guard on Dallas' titular team started. Doncic didn't get a big break last offseason after Dallas' first-round loss because the season started late. The All-Star then led Slovenia to its first Olympic berth, then to the semifinals in Tokyo before two defeats kept his home country from a medal. A mid-season COVID-19 absence was extended to give Doncic time to work on his conditioning and recover from an ankle injury. He returned around the time Dallas began their 52-30 rise from 16-18 to the fourth seed in the West. Kidd said he will be visiting Doncic on his "home turf" this summer and hinted that conditioning will be part of the conversation. "I think the next step is to understand how long the season really is if you want to win a championship," Kidd said. Doncic had perhaps the worst half of his playoff career as the Warriors built a 17-point lead at halftime in clincher. After such a stellar start to his postseason career, including a 35-point elimination-game average, it was hard to blame him. Kidd said this while alluding to the mindset of building the roster around Doncic. "So just to understand that we need Luka to go big a lot of nights just to give us a chance and unfortunately the ball [Thursday] just didn't go for him," Kidd said. The Mavericks gave up pairing Doncic with Kristaps Porzingis, traded the 7ft 3in Latvian for Washington and changed the mix around their star. Now they will once again address the question of whether Doncic needs a co-star, starting with the re-signing of Jalen Brunson. As a second-round pick that same year, Doncic was drafted third overall, Brunson added to his stats by averaging 21.6 points in the playoffs. Dallas owner Mark Cuban sounded confident about keeping Brunson after the Game 5 loss. The Mavericks also know they need help down center after Looney played a big part in Golden State's win. "We're going to come together and really focus on the type of J-Kidd player," Cuban told Bally Sports Southwest after the game. He will have more help at shooting guard in Tim Hardaway Jr., who retired after breaking a foot in January. The Mavericks thrived in the playoffs when one of them had a good night of shooting. "This isn't an old group at all," Dinwiddie said.

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For Mavericks, losing to Warriors was simply surrendering to the inevitable

DALLAS — It all ended Thursday night in San Francisco, but let's not pretend there's any underlying sadness or failure on the Mavericks' part this season. Let's see for a moment what they were fighting in the west. The Golden State Warriors are at the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years. (Author: Gardener)

MavericksGolden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins battle Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic for a loose ball on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at the Chase Center in San Francisco at the Chase Center in San Francisco. DALLAS -- It all ended on Thursday night in San Francisco, but let's not pretend there's any underlying sadness or failure on the Mavericks' part this season. Let's see for a moment what they were fighting in the west. The Golden State Warriors are at the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years. They are entering the final for the sixth time in the last six years, in which Klay Thompson, who had his only lights-out shooter game of the series on Thursday and scored 32 points, is healthy. In six Western Conference playoffs since 2015, the Warriors are 24-8 with two sweeps and two teams (one of which is now Dallas) in five games. They were a team built to get to the finals year after year and they did just that. That's why I hate most of all the fact that Kevin Durant came by to win some Finals MVP trophies. There's a big chance they would win without him. In 2016, they won 73 games without him. If you call in Stephen Curry 7th (a pick after Jonny Flynn) and Thompson 12th (a pick after Jimmer Fredette) and Draymond Green 35th (oops, right after Dallas landed Bernard James and Jae Crowder) and a few years coming back later and Jordan snapping Poole 28th (right after Dylan Windler and Mfiondu Kabengele) and then trading D'Angelo Russell and Junk to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins and a pick that turns you into Jonathan Kuminga makes you more than an organization as an organization few things right. To paraphrase what Ruth said to the acting sheriff last season of Ozark, "They play chess while you play Candy Land." The Mavericks finished this season 52-30 but went 0 in the playoffs at the Chase Center: 3 under. So did the Denver Nuggets, who won four fewer games than Dallas this season. So did the Memphis Grizzlies, who won four more games than Dallas. To say that the playoffs are hard to win? Even if the Warriors drop a game there during the Finals, don't expect anyone but Steph and Draymond and Klay and Wiggins to be pulling up more NBA hardware in a couple of weeks. It's just worth noting that if you want to get into this whole business of being a sports fan, a team that gives you a nice long drive to the edge of Memorial Day weekend, like the Mavericks just did, is worth it is to be applauded. Playoff losses often come with the exposure of some inefficiency. And when the Stars give it their all in a seven-game streak but record 14 goals against the Calgary Flames, who then concede 25 in five games to Edmonton, it's probably a signal that Dallas is a little off target. No pre-Dallas champion has ever gone 10 years without a playoff series win, though Chicago has won just one series in the first decade since the departures of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. These particular Mavericks had the folks in Utah and Phoenix scratching their heads en route to the Western Conference Finals. In fairness, they already scraped a little in Utah, but the Mavericks forced them to take it up a notch. We thought the Suns were the toughest challenge Dallas could face given Phoenix's finals last spring and 64-win regular season. The Warriors, with center Kevon Looney efficiently guarding both Doncic and Jalen Brunson when forced into those matchups, and Green essentially a smaller, more athletic version of a center, weren't so easily shaken. And even with that, the Warriors resorted to zone defenses more and more as the series progressed, and Dallas still threw in 84 3-pointers, which is by a considerable margin the most in a five-game playoff. That won't net you an award, but it does offer some food for thought about where the game is going and how the Mavericks are at the forefront of that movement. Yes, it's a team that needs more size and stability and maybe a few other things for next season, but let's not bank 2021/22 too deep. Dallas was eliminated by a team that is the dominant professional franchise of this era when it comes to achieving championship streaks and collecting trophies. Even with the depth the Warriors have shown, particularly in the fourth quarter of Game 4 when Steve Kerr's bench attempted to sweep himself, their greatness won't last forever.

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Warriors' Gary Payton II is on course to return for the NBA Finals, according to the report

"There is optimism he could be back in the lineup as early as Game 1." (Author: Gardener)

Gary Payton IIWith the Warriors returning to the NBA Finals, one of their key plays en route to the final leg of the league appears to be about to return to the court. According to a report by The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania, Gary Payton II is expected to return to action during the NBA Finals and may be ready once the series begins Thursday night at the Chase Center. "There is optimism that he could be back in the line-up as early as Game 1," said Charania. Warriors guard Gary Payton II (broken elbow) is expected to return in the NBA Finals, sources say. Payton broke his elbow in a nasty incident in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals in Memphis when Grizzlies' Dillon Brooks lashed out at Payton during a layup attempt, crawling him to the ground. Payton landed squarely on his elbow, fracturing his bone and suffering ligament and muscle damage. Return to NBA Finals a 'surreal feeling' for Klay Thompson after a difficult 3 years Who should Warriors want as NBA Finals rivals? What Steph, Klay and Draymond Say About Returning to the NBA Finals The game was deemed dirty by the Warriors, with Steve Kerr saying Brooks "broke the code" after the game. But after the Warriors defeated the Grizzlies in six games, Payton told the media Brooks apologized for hurting him and Payton had no ill will towards Brooks. Payton even wrote in a Players' Tribune article that he respected the fact that Brooks came to him person-to-person to apologize. He even started in the first two games of the Memphis series and was considered the player Golden State would rely on the most to knock out Ja Morant. Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be held on Thursday, June 2nd at the Chase Center. While Payton isn't ready for this game, he would benefit from playing the series between Game 1 and Game 2 (Sunday 5th June) and then again before Game 3 (Wednesday 8th June in the Eastern Conference) takes two days off city).

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Let's live with the Golden State Warriors in the moment while we have them

Welcome to Layup Lines, our daily NBA newsletter, where we prime you for a tip on tonight's action, from what to watch to betting. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every afternoon. What works (Author: Gardener)

the Golden State WarriorsWelcome to Layup Lines, our daily NBA newsletter, where we prime you for a tip on tonight's action, from what to watch to betting. Your boy Sykes is here once again to get you started on today's playoff action. But first, a quick word about the Golden State Warriors. Man. It's hard to believe that the Warriors' streak of the past decade began back in 2015. Back in the NBA Finals for the 6th time in 8 years and, well, that alone is pretty incredible. We've known this moment would come for a few days — ever since they took a 3-0 lead against the Dallas Mavericks. It was rightly assumed that they would make it back to the finals, which is always a pretty incredible thing. But especially when you make it back to the top of the mountain after literally falling all the way down. Honestly though, it doesn't feel like anyone is really talking about the feat itself. It feels like something has fallen by the wayside. Instead of celebrating the Warriors' fairly unprecedented winning streak, people are either way too far ahead. At one end of the spectrum, people like Patrick Beverley compare Stephen Curry's resume to LeBron James' and say, "You're right there." And that might be true! But it just doesn't feel like a good time to discuss it, considering this run isn't quite over yet. On the other hand, you have people bringing up that Warriors run just to kind of amplify James' accomplishments, like one of the greatest players of all time really needed that. People. I'm not here to say that these debates are worthless, or to judge whether or not this is fodder worth discussing. We can discuss it later. There is enough time to do all of this. But, all of you. The Warriors just reached the NBA Finals for the 6th time in the last 8 years. That's pretty unprecedented. Some NBA goodness from across the USA TODAY Sports Network. Speaking of Warriors, this NBA Finals is another chance for Stephen Curry to snag that elusive Finals MVP trophy. And it might actually be his last best shot. “Now Curry is the top dog again. If the Celtics progress, Tatum will be the best player in the series, but he just doesn't have the same experience on this stage. No one on either Eastern Conference team has Curry's combination of skill and Finals experience. And either team would be underdogs for the Warriors, who are -145 odds to win it all. That puts 34-year-old Curry in the driver's seat of the NBA Finals MVP, the final missing leg of his legendary career. And with the Warriors no longer the young upstarts, there's no guarantee he'll get another chance. Now's the time." I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for this streak to be over. The Miami Heat seem to have absolutely nothing when it comes to advantages against the Celtics' defensive length. Also, fighting so many players with injuries in this game I think the Celtics will take that away —Marcus Smart (ankle) is a question for Friday's game against the Heat —Robert Williams (knee) is a questionable for Friday's game against the Heat — Tyler Herro (groin) is a question for Friday's game against the Celtics — Kyle Lowry (hamstring) is a question for Friday's game against the Celtics — Max Strus (hamstring) is a question for Friday's game against the Celtics - PJ Tucker (knee) is doubtful for Friday's game against the Celtics - Gabe Vincent (hamstring) is doubtful for Friday's game against the Celtics © Provided by For The Win - A Celtic has a real shot at the Larry Bird MVP tonight - Trophy too win, but which players of C might have won them before, if there were any? Celtics Wire take a look. - A list of the top 10 prop bets for today's game - Chet Holmgren kinda makes Dirk Nowitzki and David Robinson look like they're my size compared to him. Gannett may earn revenue from Tipico for viewer recommendations on betting services. Tipico has no control over, nor is such revenue in any way dependent on or connected to the newsrooms or reporting. See Tipico.com for Terms and Conditions. Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA). Wild photos of Chet Holmgren alongside Dirk Nowitzki and David Robinson illustrate his incredible size. How the stars of Top Gun: Maverick got their callsigns, Diablo Immortal, unlock times and preload details - when to play in your region

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What we learned from the Mavericks-Warriors Western Conference Finals series

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 on Thursday night, winning the Western Conference Finals in five games and advancing to the 2022 NBA Finals. (Author: Gardener)

MavericksThe Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 Thursday night, won the Western Conference Finals in five games and advanced to the 2022 NBA Finals. The rest of the NBA may have had two years without the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, but Fully recovered, the Warriors are now in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons after defeating the Golden State Warriors Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. With a 120-110 win over the Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals Thursday night, Golden State redeemed their ticket back to the NBA Finals, and while they've been there before, it was a surreal moment for Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green . "It's really hard to put into words," Thompson said after the game. Thompson, who tore a left cruciate ligament in the 2019 NBA Finals followed by a right Achilles tendon while recovering from his cruciate ligament injury, missed two full seasons and has repeatedly admitted to having doubts about his long-term future. Klay Thompson, finally making his big comeback this January, finds himself back in the NBA Finals with redemption on his mind. "You could see how much has been missing in recent years," said all-star forward Draymond Green. The Warriors are now the only other franchises in NBA history to have, alongside the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, and Bill Russell's Boston Celtics of the 1950s and 1960s, according to ESPN Reached the NBA Finals six times in eight years. Not only was Golden State head coach Steve Kerr a part of all those Finals appearances with the Warriors, but he himself was a part of greatness in the '90s with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, winning three titles as a player with Chicago. "I don't even know what to say when our team, our guys, especially the core group, is in it six times in eight years," Kerr said after his team secured a berth in the NBA Finals on Thursday. On the losing side, the Dallas Mavericks proved a lot this year, especially given the fact that no one thought they would make the Western Conference Finals but would win a playoff series on their own! In his first season as the team's head coach, Jason Kidd transformed the Mavs from one of the worst defensive teams in the league into an elite defensive team that comes close to being a true championship threat year after year and year round. Heading into the offseason, they have some important roster decisions to make, but if they've got one thing clear, it's that they won't be going anywhere in the Western Conference any time soon. Although it was over quickly, the 2022 Western Conference Finals was a great spectacle with many stars showing off great. As the Warriors head to the NBA Finals again, let's take a look at the key things we learned from their streak against the Mavericks. Stephen Curry was the series MVP and we all know the impact All-Stars Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins had on this team, but the most important player for the Warriors is and was Kevon Looney. When you talk about the "glue guys" in the NBA who play their roles perfectly and do their best night after night, it's really hard not to say that Looney is one of the best. He's an "undersized" center and definitely not the most talented big man or most athletic player in the league, but Kevon Looney has an extremely high basketball IQ, knows how to play to his strengths, and has been with the Warriors since 1996 for quite some time. This is Looney's seventh NBA season and while people tend to say the Warriors don't have a center all the time, he's proven to be one hell of a center! In that series against Dallas, the 6-foot-9 tall man averaged 10.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and he shot 70.6% from the floor. This was possibly Looney's best playoff streak of all time, and he had a couple of career games against the Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals this year. After a performance of 10 points and 5 rebounds in Game 1, Kevon Looney had a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in a massive come-from-behind win in Game 2 for Golden State. In Game 3, Looney had another strong performance with 9 points and 12 rebounds and on Thursday to close he recorded another double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds. Just under 36% of Looney's total rebounds in that streak came on the offensive end of the floor, and time and time again his aggressiveness on the inside really helped breathe life into the Warriors when they needed it most. The Mavericks didn't have any inside solutions for Kevon Looney, and while he might not be the greatest player on the floor, Looney plays his role perfectly and knows what he needs to do to help the Warriors win games. What he's accomplished so far in the playoffs has helped propel the Warriors into a championship contender once again, and with him set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Kevon Looney is making quite a buck from his recent games performances. Luka Doncic is a generational talent who is already one of the faces of the NBA at 23, but he alone will not lead the Dallas Mavericks to basketball immortality. There are so many talented players in today's league and almost every team has an all-star level player, so it's really hard to imagine that one player can single-handedly give a team a title. Maybe it will happen again, but if the Mavericks learned anything from that series against Golden State, it's that they need another high-profile All-Star-like talent alongside Doncic to take some of the pressure off of him. Against Golden State, Luka literally had to do anything, and this seemed to repeat itself over and over again in the postseason for Dallas. The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. The list of teams with multiple All-Stars and All-Star-like talent goes on and on, but when you look at the Dallas Mavericks and their roster, the only name that really stands out as an elite-level threat is the it can stand over a game is Luka Doncic. They don't want to and shouldn't shake up their roster too much in the offseason, especially after that run to the Western Conference Finals, but moving forward and looking at the big picture over the long term, the Mavericks are still a long way from a true title threat in the NBA. Those were the words of Stephen Curry after the Golden State Warriors were knocked out of the play-in tournament by the Memphis Grizzlies and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year last year. Exactly one year and four days later, Stephen Curry lifts the first MVP trophy of the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals as the Warriors find themselves back in the NBA Finals! After losing to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, all hope seemed lost for the Warriors as a franchise, not only because Kevin Durant had torn his Achilles tendon and was likely to leave Golden State, but also because Klay Thompson was keen had torn cruciate ligament and the team had important roster decisions to make. At the start of the 2019-20 season, Stephen Curry suffered a broken hand and Draymond Green also missed major streaks through injury, resulting in the Warriors finishing with the worst record in the league. The 2020-21 season wasn't all that much better for the Warriors either as they continued to struggle with key injuries in their roster and now, as previously mentioned, Klay Thompson is out again with a torn Achilles tendon. So many question marks surrounded this team and its health heading into the 2021-22 season, and many wondered if we had seen the last of this new dynasty in the NBA. Now Golden State is the first team to go from the worst record in the NBA to a Finals appearance in three seasons since a team did so in 1964-67. The teams they faced in their sixth NBA Finals in the last seven years at the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls tell you everything you need to know about this Golden State Warriors franchise. This era of Curry, Thompson and Green is one of the greatest dynasties in the league of all time, and should they win another title this year, it would be really hard not to call them the greatest dynasty in basketball history. What they have had to go through through injury and conquer individually is a remarkable feat and the only thing evident in the league is that the Warriors are still Public Enemy #1 which must mean the dynasty lives on! * Klay Thompson's emotional post-Game 6 quote: Klay Thompson spoke to TNT after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks to advance to the NBA Finals on Thursday night. * Here's what Steve Kerr said after the Warriors beat the Mavs: Steve Kerr met with the media after the Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 on Thursday night to win the Western Conference Finals.

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Here's how this playoff run compares to previous seasons

Every trip to the Finals has been different for the Warriors. We've ranked the Warriors' six NBA Finals since 2015 from easiest to toughest. (Author: Gardener)

FinalsGolden State's journey to the 2022 NBA Finals went smoothly thanks to the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) and the Poole Party (Jordan Poole). Golden State reached the Finals every year from 2015-19, winning three titles but missing the playoffs the last two seasons through injury. They are now in full force and looking to extend their dynasty with their sixth appearance in the finals in eight years. Game 1 ends June 2 at 9 p.m. ET. Every trip to the Finals has been different for the Warriors, but how does this year compare to the others? We rank the Warriors' six NBA Finals since 2015 from "easiest" to hardest. FINALIST AGAIN: Warriors defeat Mavericks in Game 5 to reach the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years. Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates after winning NBA Fianls MVP in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Let's start with this: There is no such thing as an "easy" playoff run in the NBA because everyone is there for a reason. Still, the Warriors dominated the Western Conference playoffs, sweeping every team on their way to the Finals. They won all but one game against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the title, meaning the Warriors went 16-1 in the playoffs that year. Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, is guarded by Cavaliers forward LeBron James during Game 5 of the Basketball NBA Finals in Oakland, California. Won the first round of the NBA Western Conference (4-0) beating the Warriors' run to the Finals 2015 was not a hard fought game, losing just 3 games en route to winning the franchise's first NBA championship since 1975. Golden State defeated the Pelicans , secured a Game 6 win against the Grizzlies and lost just one game to the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. The undermanned Nuggets were no match for the Warriors' small-ball "death draft." They were tested in the Western semifinals by the physical Grizzlies, who led the Warriors by as much as 55 points in a stunning Game 5 win without Ja Morant. But Golden State escaped unscathed and reached the Western Conference Finals, where they solidly defeated Luka Doncic and the Mavericks despite not playing their best at times. Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives against Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Things went smoothly in the first two rounds, but the Warriors had a catch against James Harden, Chris Paul and the Rockets in the West Finals. Golden State fell 3-2 and trailed the Rockets by double digits in two elimination games. But the Warriors came back to win Games 6 and 7, where the Paul-less Rockets shot 0-of-27 from three down the stretch. During the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets, Kevin Durant suffered a right calf strain and missed nine games with the injury. He returned in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals and tore his Achilles tendon. To add insult to injury, Thompson tore his cruciate ligament in Game 6. Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is congratulated by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) after game seven of the NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors appear poised to win back-to-back championships after their record-breaking regular season and then after easy work in the first and second rounds with the Rockets and Blazers. But The Thunder was Golden State's first real postseason challenge in two years. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to a 3-1 lead in the West Finals against the Warriors, who won the next three games to advance to the 2016 Finals. As fate would have it, the Warriors' 73-9 season ended with them losing a 3-1 lead over James and the Cavaliers in the Finals. This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals: How this playoff run compares to previous seasons

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Golden State ends Luka Doncic, Dallas returns to NBA Finals

Stephen Curry and the Warriors are in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years (Author: Gardener)

Golden StateThe Golden State Warriors return to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons. They settled their ticket Thursday night with a comfortable 120-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals to win the series 4-1. Now the Warriors are waiting for the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Following the trend during the conference finals, this game was largely uncompetitive. The Mavericks held up early and made a run late in the third quarter to briefly reduce the deficit to single digits, but they never led on the night. This was all Warriors as they played one of their most complete games of the postseason. Klay Thompson turned back the clock with his best game of the series, pouring in eight 3-pointers and 32 points to take the lead. Six different Warriors hit double digits, including Andrew Wiggins, who put on another strong performance with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Warriors also shot the ball well from downtown, going 14 of 36. Luka Doncic got off to a rough start but caught fire in the third quarter and led the Mavericks' comeback attempt. He finished the loss with 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Spencer Dinwiddie also added 26 points from the bench. Here are the biggest takeaways from Game 5. You can attribute Golden State's 3-1 collapse to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 to many things, but a limping Stephen Curry would be at the top of that list, as Curry so seemingly early pinched his ankle in the game 5 with another 3-1 lead, the Warriors fans had every right to panic. Curry was the only warrior to receive All-NBA honors and they play against one of the NBA's best players. Many teams would have folded under similar circumstances if their best player hadn't played at their best. The Warriors won that game with Curry as their fifth-top scorer. Draymond Green, who never shoots, saw the moment and gave Golden State 17 points. Kevon Looney's 18 rebounds gave the Warriors a plus-17 lead on the glass. Andrew Wiggins brilliantly defended Luka Doncic. Nemanja Bjelica played one of the best defenses of his life. Steve Kerr's mantra since taking over the Warriors has been "strength in numbers." He plays deep rotations even in the playoffs and emphasizes the commitment of every player on his team. But the past two Golden State championships have ultimately been a function of talent. The warriors had more of it than anyone else. It's just not a megastar's talent that drives them forward. Hell, you could almost forget that they played Game 5 without three key contributors (Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II). In a way, this is the kind of finals run Kerr has always wanted to do. No Warriors team has ever resonated better with his coaching philosophy. That was really a team win and if they win four more it will be a team championship. Golden State's mantra is strength in numbers, and that's not a philosophy Dallas can share. The Mavericks are a little closer to 'one is the loneliest number' because their entire roster-building philosophy hinges on Luka Doncic being the best player on the floor. If he doesn't get good shots, everything else falls apart. And that was evident throughout this game. It's no coincidence that when Doncic started this game with 2 of 14 from the field, the Mavericks fell as much as 25 points behind. The Warriors threw him aggressive doubles throughout the first quarter, betting that if they could clip his shooters Dallas would have so little ball handling that they could either generate a turnover on the pass or spin back into position before the Mavericks they hurt. It took Doncic more than half to finally resolve the Golden State defense. He made eight of his last 14 shots, and that 25-point deficit fell to single digits, but it wasn't enough. Yes, Spencer Dinwiddie had an excellent game, but so much of it depended on his patchy track record. The Warriors don't defend him like a star. He was essentially a role player having a hot night. If Dallas had had another star to share some of Doncic's load, the Mavericks might have endured Lukas' slow start long enough for his hot end to matter. The Warriors obviously had the kind of support structure for Curry. Until the Mavericks find that, they won't win a title. LeBron James couldn't do it alone in Cleveland. The Mavericks did well to surround Doncic with an array of shooters and defenders. It won't mean anything until Luka has a sidekick. Curry may have taken the Western Conference Finals MVP trophy, but this was Klay Thompson's night. He led the Warriors with 32 points on eight made 3-pointers. After the game, he joked that he should have had 10. There have been moments over the past few months when it seemed like Thompson would struggle to stay grounded in games like this. Even on this series, while we've seen him post some great second halves, we didn't get the impression he put together a killer front-to-back game like this. Golden State's attempt to win the 2019 Finals ended effectively when Thompson tore his cruciate ligament. Now comes their journey to the 2022 Finals thanks to what might be the best game of Thompson's postseason. After a two-year absence, one of the biggest heat checks in NBA history will propel his talents onto the league's biggest stage and compete for his fourth ring.

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How to buy Golden State Warriors tickets to the 2022 NBA Finals before the opponent is determined

The Golden State Warriors are in the 2022 NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years. (Author: Gardener)

NBA FinalsThe Golden State Warriors are traveling to the 2022 NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years, and fans can buy tickets now before they sell out. The healthy trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green send the Warriors on another journey to the NBA Finals. Thompson tore his left ACL during a season-ending Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals against Toronto and then tore his right Achilles tendon just before the start of the 2020-21 season. He led by 32 points in a 120-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of Thursday night's Western Conference Finals. Fans looking for tickets to see the Warriors live in the 2022 NBA Finals can do so before the opponent is even announced. The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will face off in Game 6 on Friday, May 27 to see who advances. If the Celtics win at home on Friday, they will face the Warriors in the finals. If they lose, Miami has another chance to meet the Warriors in Game 7 (that would be Sunday, May 29). Games 1 (June 2) and 2 (June 5) of the NBA Finals will be played at the Chase Center in San Francisco, and for Games 3 and 4 the two teams will travel to either Boston or Miami. Fans can purchase tickets to the Warriors' first two home games in the Finals on StubHub, VividSeats and TicketNetwork. * Miami/Boston vs. * Miami/Boston vs. Golden State, 8 ET, ABC - Buy Tickets at StubHub, VividSeats and TicketNetwork Golden State, 8 ET, ABC - Buy Tickets at StubHub, VividSeats and TicketNetwork * Game 5: Monday, June 13: Miami/Boston vs. * Game 6: Thursday, June 16: Golden State vs. Miami/Boston, 9 ET, ABC (if required) * Game 7: Sunday, June 19: Miami/Boston vs. Golden State, 8 ET, ABC (if required) Golden State, 8 ET, ABC (if required) Tickets for Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 2 start at $715 at StubHub and $606 at VividSeats and $781 at TicketNetwork . The trio that have propelled Golden State to so much success in recent years is complete again and has the Warriors in position for another title after beating the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals Thursday night with a 120-110 win achieved. The triumvirate of Curry, Thompson and Green is in rare air in NBA history as the core of a team that made it to six NBA Finals in an eight-year span. It's a feat only matched by the biggest groups with Bill Russell's Celtics of the 1950s and '60s, Magic Johnson's Lakers in the 1980s and Michael Jordan's Bulls of the 1990s. Now the Warriors are hoping to add a fourth to the titles they won in 2015, '17 and '18 when the Finals begin on June 2 against Boston or Miami. The Celtics lead the series 3-2 and go into Game 6 at home on Friday night. "We're happy to be here, but it would help our legacy a lot if we could complete the mission and win the whole thing," said Thompson. But tomorrow when that Game 6 comes up, I'll turn the page and watch because we want to end this thing the right way.” The last time the Warriors made it to the Finals, they fell short and started a two-year spiral full of defeats and injuries. Thompson tore his left cruciate ligament during a season-ending Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals. Kevin Durant tore his Achilles tendon earlier in the series and then moved to Brooklyn this summer, leading the Warriors to finish an NBA-worst 15-50 in the 2019-20 season shortened by the pandemic. Thompson then tore his right Achilles tendon just before the start of the next season and the Warriors failed to make it back to the playoffs, being KO'd by Memphis in the play-in game. But Thompson returned in January and combining the aging trio of stars with an infusion of youth from the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and others has returned Golden State to the top of the league. "We never lost faith, but you understand how difficult it would be to climb the mountain again," Curry said. Thompson led the decisive win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against Dallas, making eight 3-pointers for the fifth time in his playoff career and scoring 32 points. Green added 17 points, six rebounds and nine assists to go along with his usual defensive brilliance, and Curry had 15 points and nine assists when he was named series MVP. It's a level of play that reminds coach Steve Kerr of the Bulls teams he played on with Jordan and Scottie Pippen that won so many titles in the 1990s. It's the only way you can run like this because you get exhausted, tired and frustrated. Unless you have that kind of competitive spirit and that kind of skill combined, it's just not going to happen six times in eight years.” * How to Buy Oilers Tickets to the 2022 Western Conference Finals Before Your Opponent Is Determined

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Golden State eliminates Dallas and advances to NBA Finals

The Warriors beat the Mavericks to return to the Finals and the Celtics can face them with a win over the Heat. Also, fantasy football OTA takeaways. (Author: Gardener)

Golden StateA close game? With a chance to make history, the Warriors wanted to close the door on the Mavericks in Game 5. Golden State exited Thursday with a 120-110 win in front of their home crowd; Steph Curry won the first-ever Western Conference Finals as MVP, Klay Thompson channeled "Game 6 Klay" and the Warriors Dynasty reached the Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons. Golden State, of course, remains the favorite for the title while it awaits its opponent. Please read on for more on how they returned to basketball's greatest stage, plus a check-in with the Stanley Cup playoffs, where two of the bottom four teams are set, and a fantasy football offseason -Update. Boston has taken over the Eastern Conference Finals. A win tonight can end Miami and advance to the finals for the first time in over a decade. The Celtics' defense prevailed in Games 4 and 5 - the Heat managed just 82 and 80 points in two one-sided losses that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. Kyle Lowry and Max Strus have shot 1-28 from the field combined in their last two games, and Jimmy Butler has just 19 points in that span. With Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III back in the lineup, Boston has played the role of the league's best defense, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have taken turns providing the offense the C needs. The Heat need a win to force a Game 7 in Miami, which will be next to impossible unless their game improves. The oddsmakers don't have much faith in the No. 1, installing her as an 8.5-point underdog, the widest spread the Heat faced in the playoffs. Out in San Francisco, the Warriors beat the Mavericks thanks to Thompson's game-best 32 points and eight three-pointers made. Every Golden State starter finished the race in double digits and helped make life as difficult as possible for Luka Dončić, who finished 10-29 and 3-13 of three, albeit with 28 points. The focus in Dallas shifts to finding Dončić as a co-star while the Warriors consider another ring in San Francisco. The Avalanche have another chance to end the blues tonight. This time, Colorado will try to do so on the road to avoid returning home for a possible Game 7. St. Louis extended the streak Wednesday with an overtime win, but the Avalanche are big favorites to end the streak on the road. If not, Game 7 will take place in Denver on Sunday. That 5-4 win propelled Edmonton into the West Finals where they will face off against the winner of Avalanche-Blues. This epic game broke an NHL record as the teams combined to score four goals in 1:11 game time. And in the other ongoing second-round series, the Hurricanes took a 3-2 lead with a 3-1 home win over Rangers. This win improved Carolina's home record to 7-0 in the postseason. If the Hurricanes cannot break that winning streak in away games, the streak returns to North Carolina for Game 7 Monday night. Organized team activities around NFL-organized OTAs began this week. You could create a Pro Bowl roster with some of the players missing those voluntary workouts including: Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Deebo Samuel and Terry McLaurin. Reasons players are absent range from contract disputes to trade requests or, in the case of veterans like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, some just don't need the extra training sessions at this point in the offseason. It's worth keeping an eye on as franchise quarterbacks and groundbreaking receivers negotiate new deals as summer approaches, but there's a little other news that's emerged from OTAs this week that should concern fantasy executives right away. Indianapolis employs 2021 fantasy football darling and early 2022 1.01 pick Jonathan Taylor and Reich commends his endorsement? Some context: Hines gained 276 rushing yards from 56 carries, 310 receiving yards from 40 catches, and made three endzone stops last season. Taylor led the NFL with 332 carries for 1,811 yards and 18 scores on the ground alone. Reich called Hines a playmaker and said they wanted to feature him. Probably not - Craig Ellenport has more of Reich stumping for Hines. The Colts stayed in Indy and signed Nick Foles this week to support their new quarterback Matt Ryan. Foles has experience with Reich's system, he was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia when Carson Wentz went down, and Foles stepped in and led the Eagles to their 2017 Super Bowl victory. Another note from OTAs: Is Patriots coach and general manager Bill Bellichick Calling playing in New England? The team still doesn't have an offensive coordinator, which is a problem for fantasy production from players like Mac Jones, Damien Harris, and newcomers DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton. "What will remain true is that the Patriots are about winning games, not making fantasy stars." Shawn Childs' team predictions are being released on an ongoing basis, with the AFC South halfway through. Here are his full AFC North and AFC East team predictions. Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report: It's been a rough ride for many volunteers around MLB lately, so it's especially important to check how each team's bullpen is doing and which pitchers are on the act and who's in and who's out. Williamson, who struggled with injuries throughout his young career, missed the entire 2021-22 season, which saw New Orleans reach the playoffs at No. 8. Enjoy your weekend and I'll be back next week with the NBA Finals Matchup Set!

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How the Golden State Warriors climbed the mountain one more time

Melissa Rohlin describes how GM Bob Myers and the Warriors rose from the deep to reach their sixth NBA Finals in eight years. (Author: Gardener)

Melissa RohlinIt was Father's Day in 2016, and as Warriors general manager Bob Myers drove across the Bay Bridge to attend Game 7 of the NBA Finals, he had a specific thought in mind. In just a few hours, he would be either ecstatic or devastated. The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a shocking implosion for a team that had won an NBA-record 73 regular-season games. Later that night, Myers returned home to a deafening silence. "I had a grilled cheese sandwich and I poured some whiskey," Myers told FOX Sports. "If you win, you get 250 text messages." And when you make all those sacrifices and come up short, the pain is like, 'I worked really hard for this, and it didn't happen.'" The Warriors were in the ultimate pressure cooker , when they reached the NBA Finals five straight seasons from 2015-2019, a roller coaster ride that took them to three championships. But being at the top of the league takes its toll. It's like taking the bar exam again and again to become a lawyer, but in front of tens of millions of people, with every mistake publicly ridiculed. Because of this, the Warriors said their run had to end. "You can't run a marathon every year or have them run back-to-back without an award," Myers told FOX Sports. After 2019 things fell apart for the Warriors. It was a scary time for an organization used to being at the top. Without that break, the Warriors wouldn't be where they are now: back in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons. In the playoffs, Draymo nd Green kept emphasizing one point: He doesn't think everyone is in this league really want to win. It's a contradiction in terms when you think about it. The goal of sport is to win. But in reality, winning is a complicated pursuit. To really risk everything for this goal is deeply exhausting. "For a man who makes $35 million a year and never needs to win, why stress yourself?" Green said. "That's how a loser thinks. I just don't think so. But a lot of people in this league do, and that's okay.” When asked what it takes to win at the highest level, Green chuckled. "It's mentally, physically, and most importantly, emotionally draining and exhausting because it requires a level of focus, it requires a level of sacrifice that's stressful," Green said. “You're completely immersed in this – almost like in this trance – and that's all. What am I putting in my body that will help me tomorrow? The Warriors lived under that intensity for five years. They have the second-longest streak of Finals in NBA history behind the Boston Celtics, who made ten straight Finals from 1957-1966. But back then there were only eight NBA teams, compared to 30 now. Something had to go for the Warriors, after all. Klay Thompson suffered a cruciate ligament tear in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals and then tore his Achilles tendon shortly before returning ahead of the 2020-21 season. Stephen Curry suffered a broken hand four games into the 2019-20 season. Myers said you can't necessarily indicate that one of these events derailed the Warriors' championship run. "Everyone has a different idea of ​​why it stopped, whether it was injuries or whether Kevin left," Myers told FOX Sports. I think going back to the Finals for six straight years is just kind of unbelievable." In fact, Myers and Warriors coach Steve Kerr recently discussed this phenomenon. Kerr explained that the same thing happened when he played for the Chicago Bulls, who played between 1991 and won six championships in 1998. At some point, dynasties just have to fall apart, at least for a while." He mentioned to me that a lot of people blamed [Bulls general manager Jerry] Krause or the fact that [coach] Phil [Jackson] wasn't would come back," Myers told FOX Sports. "[Kerr] said, 'The truth is, it was just over.'" The scary question is, will it ever happen again? Myers admitted he really did it for the Warriors didn't know. During the 2019-2020 season, the Warriors plummeted to the league's basement, winning just 15 games in the COVID-shortened 65-game season, but there were too many injuries ments to assess the team. The following season, frustration began to mount. It wasn't until they won 15 of their last 20 games that they began to look like a semblance of their old selves. Curry and Green made one last push to try and make the playoffs, but they lost the play-in game. This led to them coming to a unanimous consensus. "We can't keep doing this," Green told FOX Sports. There were so many question marks this season too. A month before the start of the playoffs, Curry, Green and Thompson had only played 11 minutes together in the previous three years. Would they be able to figure things out in time to make a run? "I didn't know we were going to be good..." Myers told FOX Sports. “I think what made us stay the course was that from [owner] Joe [Lacob] to us in the front office we felt an organizational commitment to these three – Steph, Klay and Draymond – one to give others a chance. "They deserved another chance to win." During those playoffs, it seemed like no time had passed for the dynasty. The Warriors have consistently displayed their championship DNA, as evidenced by their rushing back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Mavericks in Game 2 of the West Finals, their third-biggest postseason comeback in franchise history. Kerr believes the team's current success is a direct result of its precipitous fall from the spotlight. "I think what you're seeing this year is really revitalized, Steph, Klay, Draymond, Andre [Iguodala], all the guys that were a part of it, Loon [Kevon Looney] too," Kerr said. "Yeah, I think being away for so long the way we've been has basically fueled us for two years and you see the results, no w." However, the playoff hiatus wasn't exactly comfortable for the Warriors superstars. If "There are few players who really want to win in this league, Curry, Thompson and Green are among them. They have to win. If they lose, they're lost. "As you go through it, it feels like the world is falling apart." , Green said, "You play basketball to get those moments, to play in the playoffs, to possibly win a championship. And if you don't have that opportunity, don't think, 'This sets us up for it.' You think, "What do I have to do to get back there?" But when you go through that, you're miserable." It's clear that the Warriors still top the league when their superstars are together. Their two lost seasons haven't shaken their chemistry or determination. But it's hard not to wonder how much longer they can keep this up. During their five-year finals series, they racked up more than a season and a half of extra playing time. Curry is 34 and both Green and Thompson are just two years behind him. Sure, the Warriors have added young talent in Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and James Wiseman, but their Big Three are quickly becoming their Old Three in basketball years. After the Warriors defeated Memphis in the second round of the playoffs, Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks succinctly expressed the sentiment of any up-and-coming team targeting the league's youngest dynasty: "We're young, they're getting old, so you know We're coming every year." But Curry doesn't expect the Warriors' stars to slow down anytime soon. And most importantly, while they're still in their prime, they'll do everything in their power to get back on track To get to the top. They know what it takes to devote all their weight to winning, and they're still willing to make that sacrifice. "Where our core is in terms of our career, we feel like we have a lot more in the tank," Curry said. "And now is an amazing opportunity for us because every time you come here you realize how hard it is to come here, how hard it is to win. And the fact that it f There is a limited timetable for all of this to try and play at this level. The past eight years have been a wild ride for Myers, and the Warriors' return to the NBA Finals is a huge sigh of relief. He's lucky his players enjoy the deep fear of trying to win. He knows it's rare. As Green said, it is for the few and the very few. "The thing about being in the finals that I think is a common thread for a leader, coach or player is the excitement," Myers told FOX Sports. I think what Draymond is saying is that some people struggle with that. I think a lot of people do that. It comes with extreme soaring. There was the surreal feeling Myers felt after the Warriors reached the mountaintop for the first time in 2015. Or the happiness he experienced when David West shed tears of joy after winning his first title in 2017. Or the awe He witnessed Mike Brown take the helm in 2017 when Kerr was struggling with horrific back problems, and then saw Kerr return to lead the team across the finish line. Of course, the lows are just as intense, which is why Myers' stomach sank as he drove across the Bay Bridge six years ago. But Myers can't wait to relive the commotion. "It's a very high-class problem, if you want to call it a problem," he said with a chuckle. “That is exactly what you want to do in your professional career. Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News.

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