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Golden State heads to NBA Finals after beating Dallas Mavericks

Golden State will return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019 after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

Golden State won the series, 4-1, with a 120-110 victory in Game 5 on Thursday at San Francisco.

Due to injuries, the Warriors had spent a few seasons wandering the NBA wilderness. But their famous core – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – are together again and playing some of their best basketball, which is no small feat considering the team’s triumphant past.

“I’ve really enjoyed watching our guys compete and stay connected and improve and be successful,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said this week. “We’ve been through a lot over the past few years, so it’s wonderful to be back in this position.”

Golden State won three championships and made it to five straight finals from 2015 to 2019 before it all started to unravel. Falling to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Finals, Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and Kevin Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon.

It would be worse. A few weeks later, Durant, who had helped Golden State win two championships, left for the Nets. Four games into the following season, Curry broke his left hand. Golden State finished with the league’s worst record, a blow to a franchise that seemed poised to establish itself as a dynasty.

Earlier this season, in a podcast interview with former player JJ Redick, Green acknowledged his uncertainty about the future — both the team’s and his own — as Golden State weathered a listless 2019-20 season. Without Thompson, who has spent much of his time rehabilitating away from the team, and Curry, who has only played five games, Green has done little to hide his frustrations. He mentored some of the younger players on the team, but he also sulked and shot terribly.

“I couldn’t get going,” Green told Redick. “It was never a time when I felt like my window was closing because of my skills or because of what I bring to the table. But if we’re going to suck like this every year, then my window is closed because that I can’t get up for these meaningless games.

Thompson suffered another misfortune when he tore his right Achilles tendon during private training before the start of the 2020-21 season.

Behind the scenes, however, Golden State decision makers were heading toward a future — a future they hoped would resemble the team’s not-so-distant past. In February 2020, general manager Bob Myers traded for Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 first draft pick who never quite realized his seemingly vast potential with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the Warriors, Wiggins was going to prove that he could do a bit of everything: shoot, pass, rebound, defend. On Monday, Kerr described the Wiggins trade as “the key to it all.” Golden State’s depth at the wing position had evaporated after the 2019 Finals. Thompson was injured. Shaun Livingston had retired. And Andre Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

“So trading Wiggins has allowed us to start rebuilding that wing defence,” Kerr said, “and Wiggs has just been so good. He’s improved so much in the last two years. He’s perfect at side of our guys.

This season, Wiggins was an All-Star for the first time as Golden State went 53-29, good for the West’s third-best record. There have been other significant moments along the way. Curry broke the league record for career 3-pointers. Thompson, after 941 days out, made his long-awaited return from injury, scoring 17 points — and even dunking — in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Golden State didn’t exactly run into the playoffs. It took time for Thompson to regain his familiar sense of the game, and Curry missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a sprained foot. During a particularly lean streak at the end of March, the Warriors lost seven of eight games. He was far from assured that they were capable of making a deep run in the playoffs.

But Golden State needed just five games to knock out the sixth-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round, then six to take out the second-seeded Grizzlies in the conference semifinals.

The Mavericks, despite Luka Doncic’s best efforts, were little more than a speed bump.

“I felt like we had a chance to be a lot better than we were in the regular season,” Kerr said this week, adding, “We thought from the start we could be a really good team. , and we’re catching up on some of the momentum now and trying to do it the best we can.

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