The Splash Brothers and company are back on the NBA’s biggest stage.
The Golden State Warriors closed out the Dallas Mavericks with a 120-110 win Thursday in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Klay Thompson hit eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 32 points. Draymond Green had 17 points and nine assists, and Steph Curry had 15 points and nine assists as the star trio guided the Warriors to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons.
“For our team, our guys, especially the core group, to be part of that six times in eight years, I don’t even know what to say,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work.”
Golden State took control in the second quarter, outscoring Dallas 41-29 to build a 17-point halftime lead. The Warriors extended the lead to as many as 23 in the third quarter before the Mavericks tried to make things interesting.
Dallas closed the third quarter on a 15-2 run to get within 94-84 heading into the fourth. However, the Warriors quickly pushed the lead back to 17 at 106-89, and the Mavericks never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Curry was named the inaugural winner of the Magic Johnson trophy as the Western Conference finals MVP.
After missing the playoffs the last two years, the Warriors are back in a familiar place in the NBA Finals and looking for their fourth championship during the current run. They made five consecutive Finals appearances from 2015-19, winning titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
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Golden State will play Boston or Miami in the NBA Finals. Game 1 is June 2 in San Francisco as the Warriors will have home-court advantage against either opponent. The Celtics currently lead the Eastern Conference finals 3-2.
Here are four takeaways from Game 5:
Klay comes alive
Thompson had his best performance of the series and one of his best of the postseason in the clincher after struggling to find his rhythm in the first four games. His eight 3s in Game 5 were more than the first four combined (seven), and his 32 points matched his high for the playoffs.
Thompson’s scoring was key for the Warriors as Curry had his worst shooting game of the playoffs (5-for-17). Thompson scored 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting (3-of-3 from deep) in the second quarter as the Warriors built the double-digit lead they wouldn’t surrender.
“It’s hard to put into words really,” said Thompson, who missed the last two seasons with ACL and Achilles injuries and returned in January. “This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”
Warriors ball movement
Motion and passing are vital components of the Warriors offense, and they’re at their best when the ball is humming around the perimeter to find the open man.
Golden State’s ball movement was a boon Thursday with 36 assists on 45 made field goals. Curry and Green each had a game-high nine assists, while Jordan Poole had six and Kevon Looney had four.
Luka looks human
Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic was going to get his points because that’s what superstars do. But the Warriors did a good job all series of making things as difficult as possible for Doncic, especially in Game 5.
Doncic finished with a team-high 28 points, but he needed 28 shots to get there. He shot 2-for-10 in the first quarter alone and finished 10-for-28 from the field, including 3-for-13 from 3-point range. For the series, Doncic shot 41.5% from the field and 35% from 3-point range.
“I don’t like losing, especially not like this,” Doncic said. “I played terrible. But if we’re talking about our season, I’m really proud of this team. … Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.”
Controlling the glass
Golden State had a significant size advantage and used it to dominate the rebounding battle against Dallas. In Game 5, the Warriors had a 51-34 advantage on the glass. In their four wins in the series, the Warriors outrebounded the Mavericks by an average of 15 per game.
Looney had a game-high 18 rebounds for Golden State, and Andrew Wiggins had 10.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.