Stephen Curry accepted his second MVP trophy for the second day in a row, this time from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in front of a sellout crowd before Game 5. As Curry took over during the final minutes of Golden State’s 125-121 series-clinching Game 5 win, scoring 12 of the Warriors’ final 17 points and assisting Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the other 5, his value stood out more than ever.
Just kidding … Curry’s 17-point overtime in Game 4 was a five-minute stretch that will live forever. But his finishing kick in Game 5 was damned good, and the Warriors needed it desperately. And not just to clinch the series, either (and thrill the crowd with those displays of ball-handling genius, followed by those 28-foot threes that everyone compares to sharp, hand-held weapons). They needed Curry to keep the entire team from having to fly up north and play another game against this scrappy Blazers squad, a game that could’ve set the Warriors back in their quest to repeat.
Andrew Bogut left in the second quarter with a right adductor strain and didn’t return. Green, seemingly indestructible throughout most of his Warriors tenure, injured his ankle in the third quarter.
“It’s a bit sore for sure,” Green said. “I went up and it was on the transition play where I got fouled by Crabbe. I went up, he kind of hit me, I lost balance a little bit and came down on the side of it. But it’s definitely something that’s been recurring a bit. Same thing happened last year in the playoffs. I sprained it in like the second round and got it almost every game after that.”
Mary Babers-Green provided a little more information on Green’s ankle, which surprised both me and her son.
@BASportsGuy he tweaked it last game
— The Green Effect (@BabersGreen) May 12, 2016
When Ann Killion said, “Your mom tweeted out that you had tweaked it in the game before,” Green’s reaction was pretty hilarious. Curry’s, too.
On a serious note …
“These few days off will be good for me,” Green said. “It will be good to rest up and do some strengthening up and get with our training staff and try to get it back right as much as possible. But I mean, it’s one of those things where once you do it, it kind of lingers on. So it’s just something that I’ve got to do what I can do for it right now. If it happens again, just deal with it.”
Curry’s final scoring flurry allows Green and Bogut (and whoever else might be hurting, including Curry himself) some rest and treatment. But there’s time to get this team back to normal on the court, as well. The Blazers gave the Warriors all they could handle, but the Warriors weren’t the same Warriors we saw during the regular season. Not after losing Curry for multiple games.
“We need days off to get some practice time in, so it’ll be good for us,” said Festus Ezeli.
Klay is made of Iron
With Green limping noticeably after his press conference — easily the most subdued Green press conference of the postseason, by the way — it seems the only rotation player who hasn’t dealt with some sort of significant injury or fatigue is Klay Thompson.
Thompson capped his best playoff series to date with an ferociously efficient 33-point game. He went 13-for-17 from the floor and made 6-of-9 from 3-point range at the same time the star he was defending, Damian Lillard, went 7-for-24. Thompson averaged 31 points per game on 49.5% shooting in this series, no small feat considering he was the No. 1 offensive option for the first three games and hasn’t been known as a primetime playoff performer … until now.
That’s why Curry, who dished out 11 assists on Wednesday night, threw one last dime when he showered Thompson with praise at the end of his joint press conference with Green. Curry didn’t even need a question about Thompson to prompt him.
“I will have to say one thing, though. You’ve got to talk about — Klay was in here earlier. That dude had the series I think I’ve ever seen him play. Both ends of the floor, defending Dame, exhausting all his energy to make it uncomfortable for him. And what he’s able to do offensively. Hopefully that doesn’t get lost in our series and the way we played as a team because you look down (at the stat sheet), he had 33 points and chased Dame around for all 34 minutes he was on the court. Shout-out to him for him elevating his game on both ends of the floor. I had to say that. Thank you.”
A reporter asked Thompson earlier if he was “maybe physically tired at this point.” His response was silent but telling, as he shook his head from side to side slowly.
“A break is great, but we’ve got to stay in good shape. We can’t just lounge around. We’ve got to have good practices, but a lot of our guys need (days off) to recover,” he said.
“I feel great, and I’m lucky I haven’t had any bad injuries. I’m just excited to get to the next round. I mean, West Finals two years in a row. It’s been a really special season.”
— What a weird scene when Green was called for a foul by Ken Mauer, then Green’s hand smacked into Mauer’s.
“He tried to block a shot and I think their hands collided,” said Steve Kerr. “They were both bleeding and getting helped by our training staff at the same time.”
Green wasn’t called for a second technical foul there, which seemed like a lucky break.
— C.J. McCollum and Lillard answered questions together, like Curry and Green, and I couldn’t help but think of the confidence bordering on defiance I saw from Curry after the Warriors lost Game 7 of their first round series with the Clippers in 2014. McCollum looked downright angry, probably because the Blazers had more than one double-digit lead in Game 5, and had chances to win Games 2 and 4 as well. But it probably didn’t help that he went off in the fourth quarter (16 points on 6-for-10 shooting), while Lillard went 1-for-7 in the same quarter.
— Both teams shot about the same from behind the arc (Portland was 16-for-36 and Golden State went 14-for-32). But the difference came closer to the “basketball ring” (Ted Cruz voice). The Warriors made 55.8% of their 2-point attempts and the Blazers made just 39.3%.
— Jared Goff was in the hallway outside the Warriors locker room after the game. Tyra Banks was sitting courtside during the game. And this concludes today’s edition of “BASG Celebrity Minute.”
— The Warriors kept getting asked who they’d rather face, the Spurs or the Thunder. They surely hope that series goes seven games, because if Oklahoma City wins tomorrow, the Western Conference Finals will begin on Monday, and if San Antonio wins tomorrow, the Warriors won’t play again until Wednesday. But no one was going to name the team they’d rather face, for obvious reasons. I have my own opinion on the subject, but it’s 1:30 am here at Oracle. So, I think I’ll save that for a later post.
— Green had some interesting comments about rest.
“Sometimes a lot of people worry about if that’s going to make you rusty or not. Usually if it does, that lasts for a quarter, maybe a quarter-and-a-half. It’s something you can bounce back from. But the rest, I think goes much further than the rust.
“So I think obviously with myself going down — not going down, but kind of tweaking my ankle today and a few other things going on, and Steph’s knee and Bogut going down today, the physical is definitely big for us right now. But I think in a regular circumstance where everybody’s healthy, the mental goes way farther. Like just the stress of knowing that I’ve got a game today, your entire day is stressful. So not having that stress for five days allows you to recharge and really get ready to go again.”