Warriors know this is some­thing spe­cial

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Janie Mccauley AP Writer

OAK­LAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry hears the dy­nasty dis­cus­sion about his Golden State Warriors dur­ing an­other post­sea­son run.

Dray­mond Green re­al­izes spe­cial teams only stay to­gether for so long be­fore some­thing breaks them apart.

That’s why the Warriors de­cided from Day 1 of train­ing camp to cher­ish this sea­son.

Golden State is a fran­chise in its prime — five straight trips to the NBA Fi­nals and seek­ing a third con­sec­u­tive ti­tle. But the clock is tick­ing and the Warriors are well aware of the pos­si­ble ram­i­fi­ca­tions of free agency and how things could change in a hurry this sum­mer.

“Basketball ca­reers aren’t that long. If you can get 10 out of it, you’re lucky,” Green ex­plained. “To be to five straight fi­nals, I don’t even know what to say about it.

This is what you play for. This is our goal every year and to get here five straight times is spe­cial.”

The Warriors started this run with three All-stars in Curry, Green and Klay Thomp­son. They added two more in Kevin Du­rant and Demar­cus Cousins. How many they’ll have af­ter free agency is any and ev­ery­one’s guess.

Curry — with nearly 11-month-old son Canon reg­u­larly in his arms for the ride — is cer­tainly rel­ish­ing this stretch of his dec­o­rated ca­reer, ap­pre­ci­at­ing how far the Warriors have come dur­ing the 10 years he has been in the league.

A third straight ti­tle is suddenly within reach, which would be Golden State’s fourth cham­pi­onship in five years.

“We know what’s at stake and what we’re chas­ing this year, this se­ries, this game, and that’s the only way that you can re­ally put your best foot for­ward in terms of try­ing to get back to the moun­tain­top,” Curry said. “We’ll have

plenty of time when we hang the sneak­ers up to re­ally go back and think about all the dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences and highs and lows, but right now, we’re two games away from an­other fi­nals ap­pear­ance. It’s pretty spe­cial.”

The Warriors are the first team to reach five straight fi­nals since the Celtics ad­vanced to 10 in a row from 1957-1966.

An­other cham­pi­onship would ce­ment this run of ti­tles among the best ever.

The Los An­ge­les Lak­ers of 2000-02 — led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’neal — are the last team to cap­ture three straight ti­tles.

Golden State ad­vanced with­out Du­rant, the reign­ing two-time fi­nals MVP, and Cousins. Both were side­lined with in­juries for the en­tire West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals. The fin­ished off Port­land with­out An­dre Iguo­dala, an­other fi­nals MVP who sat out Game 4 with an in­jury.

While the Bucks and Rap­tors are slug­ging it out in the East, the Warriors are re­hab­bing.

“I hope it doesn’t go un­no­ticed or un­der­rated. Five straight fi­nals hasn’t been done since the 60s, since Bill Russell’s Celtics,” fifth-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Hasn’t been done for a rea­son: It’s re­ally, re­ally dif­fi­cult. I just can’t say enough about the com­pet­i­tive de­sire about the group of play­ers that we have here and the cul­ture that they have built to­gether, play­ing to­gether re­gard­less of in­jury.”

Each Warriors run has been unique. When they won in 2015 it was the first ti­tle for the fran­chise in 40 years.

Lebron James and the Cleveland Cava­liers de­railed them in 2016, but the Warriors bounced back in 2017 with a dominant 16-1 record dur­ing the post­sea­son.

Last year, Golden State joined Russell’s Celtics, Michael Jor­dan’s Chicago Bulls and trio of Lak­ers teams — in­clud­ing Ge­orge Mikan and com­pany in the 1950s, Magic John­son and Ka­reem Ab­dul-jab­bar in the ‘80s, and Shaquille O’neal and Kobe Bryant nearly 20 years ago — as the only fran­chises in NBA his­tory to cap­ture three cham­pi­onships in four years.

“When I was here the first time, they re­built and re­tooled,” said An­drew Bogut, a mem­ber of the 2015 ti­tle team be­fore re­join­ing the Warriors in March.

“They didn’t just sit on their hands think­ing it was go­ing to last for­ever. They freed up cap space, you have to give (gen­eral man­ager) Bob My­ers, (owner) Joe La­cob and the coach­ing staff a lot of credit. There are a lot of teams that win a cham­pi­onship and kind of re­ward the whole ros­ter, then they end up two-three years down the track and end up in a bit of a hole. Whereas this is a great run for a fran­chise that will end up as one of the all­time greats.”

CRAIG MITCHELLDY­ER/AP

The Golden State Warriors play­ers pose with the West­ern Con­fer­ence Cham­pi­onship tro­phy af­ter Game 4 of the NBA basketball play­offs West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals against the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers Mon­day, May 20, 2019, in Port­land, Ore. The Warriors won 119-117 in over­time.

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