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How Golden State Beat the Celtics within the NBA Finals


BOSTON — It seems the dynasty had just been paused.

Golden State has won the N.B.A. championship again, 4 seasons after its last one. It’s the franchise’s seventh title and the fourth for its three superstars: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who’ve spent the past decade growing up together, winning together and, over the past three years, learning how fragile success may be.

On Thursday, they defeated the Boston Celtics, 103-90, in Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals. They won the series, 4-2, and celebrated their clinching victory on the parquet floor of TD Garden, below 17 championship banners, in front of a throng of upset partisans.

With 24 seconds left in the sport, Curry found his father near the baseline, hugged him and shook as he sobbed in his arms. Then Curry turned back toward the sport. He put his hands on his head and squatted down, then fell onto the court.

“I believe I blacked out,” Curry said later.

He thought concerning the past few months of the playoffs, concerning the past three years, concerning the individuals who didn’t think he may very well be here again.

“You get goose bumps just excited about all those snapshots and episodes that we went through to get back here,” Curry said.

Curry, who scored 34 points within the clinching game, was named the most useful player of the finals. It was the primary time in his profession he’s won the award.

“Without him, none of this happens,” Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said. “To me, that is his crowning achievement.”

Credit…Allison Dinner for The Recent York Times

Boston put up a fight.

The Celtics took a 14-2 result in open the sport, playing higher than they did of their lackluster begin to Game 5, but Golden State’s firepower threatened to overwhelm them. For nearly six minutes of playing time from late in the primary quarter until early within the second, Boston couldn’t rating.

Golden State built a 21-point lead within the second quarter, and kept that cushion early within the third.

With 6 minutes 15 seconds left within the third, Curry hit his fifth 3 of the sport, giving his team a 22-point lead. He held out his right hand and pointed at its ring finger, sure he was on his method to earning his fourth championship ring.

The moment might need motivated the Celtics, who responded with a 12-2 run. Ultimately, though, that they had an excessive amount of ground to get better.

Golden State celebrated after two seasons of subpar records, one which made it the worst team within the N.B.A. Its players and coaches spent those seasons waiting for Thompson’s injuries to heal, for Curry’s (fewer) injuries to heal and for brand new or young pieces of their roster to grow into taking up vital roles.

After they became whole again, the three-player core talked about cementing its legacy.

They were a lot younger when their journeys together began. Golden State drafted Curry in 2009, Thompson in 2011 and Green in 2012.

Curry was 27 after they won their first championship together in 2015. Thompson and Green were each 25.

That season was also Kerr’s first because the team’s coach.

Golden State went 67-15 and breezed through the playoffs to the N.B.A. finals, having no idea how hard getting there may very well be. The following 12 months the team set a league record with 73 regular-season wins but lost in a return trip to the finals. Kevin Durant joined the team in free agency that summer, and Golden State won the subsequent two championships, becoming hailed as considered one of the best teams in N.B.A. history.

The champions grew as people and as players during this stretch. Curry and Green added children to their families. They were rock stars on the road, with swarms of fans waiting for them at their hotels. Three championships in 4 seasons made Golden State seem invincible.

Only injuries could stop them.

The dynastic run led to devastating fashion in 2019 during their fifth consecutive finals appearance. Durant had been scuffling with a calf injury, then tore his right Achilles’ tendon in Game 5 of the finals against Toronto and left the team for the Nets within the off-season. Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee throughout the next game. The Raptors won the championship that day.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The Recent York Times

“It was the tip of an era at Oracle,” Curry said, referring to Golden State’s former arena in Oakland, Calif. The team moved to Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. He added: “You’re preparing for the summer, attempting to regroup and work out what’s going to occur next 12 months.”

The 2 seasons of futility that followed were difficult for all of them, but no more so than for Thompson, who also tore his right Achilles’ tendon throughout the fall of 2020, sidelining him for a further 12 months.

During this 12 months’s finals, he has often considered that journey.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” Thompson said. “I’m very grateful and all the things I did to that time led to this.”

Heading into this season, Golden State wasn’t expected to return to this stage so soon. This was particularly true because heading into the season, Thompson’s return date was unclear.

But then, hope. Golden State opened the 2021-22 campaign by winning 18 of its first 20 games. The team had found a gem in Gary Payton II, who had been solid aside by other teams due to his size or because he wasn’t a standout 3-point shooter. Andrew Wiggins, acquired in a 2020 trade with Minnesota, Kevon Looney, who was drafted weeks after that 2015 championship, and Jordan Poole, a late-first-round pick in 2019, showed why the team valued them a lot.

Curry set a profession record for 3-pointers and mentored the team’s younger players.

Who could say how good this team could be once Thompson returned?

That answer got here within the playoffs.

Golden State beat the Denver Nuggets in five games, and the Memphis Grizzlies in six. Then Dallas took just one game from Golden State within the Western Conference finals.

Curry, Thompson and Green, the engine of 5 straight finals runs, got here into this 12 months’s championship series completely modified.

“The things that I appreciate today, I didn’t necessarily appreciate those things then,” Green said. “In 2015, I hated taking pictures and, you understand, I didn’t really put two and two together. Like, man, these memories are so vital.”

Credit…Allison Dinner for The Recent York Times

They vowed to not take with no consideration any a part of the finals experience, even the negative parts.

Throughout the series, Boston fans chanted at Green using an expletive. Through the champagne celebration within the postgame locker room, his teammates mimicked them.

“It’s beautiful,” Green said. “You embrace the tough times, and that’s what we do and that’s how we come out on top. For us, it was a wonderful thing. To listen to my teammates chant that, it don’t get a lot better than that.”

They faced a Boston Celtics team that was young, identical to they were in 2015, led by the 20-somethings Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, shepherded by the elder statesman Al Horford. The Celtics did almost all the things the hard way as they sought the storied franchise’s 18th championship.

They swept the Nets in the primary round but went to seven games against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat. They won after they needed to, and committed too many careless turnovers after they didn’t.

Boston was the younger, stronger and more athletic team within the finals. The Celtics didn’t fear Golden State, or the grand stage, and proved it by winning Game 1 on the road. Until Game 5, the Celtics had not lost back-to-back games within the playoffs.

Curry had his way against Boston’s defense in Game 4, scoring 43 points. Then in Game 5, the Celtics stymied his efforts, only to have his teammates make up the bottom he lost.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Green recalled a moment during Golden State’s flight to Boston from San Francisco between Games 5 and 6. He, Thompson and Curry were sitting together after they were spotted by Bob Myers, the team’s general manager and president of basketball operations.

“He’s like: ‘Man, y’all are funny. Y’all still sit together. Y’all don’t understand, it’s 10 years. Like, this doesn’t occur. Guys still sitting together at the identical table,’” Green recalled. “He’s like, ‘Guys usually are not even on the identical team for 10 years, let alone still sitting there at the identical table and having fun with one another’s conversation and presence.’”

At a separate news conference a couple of minutes later, Thompson was asked about that moment and why the three of them still enjoy one another’s company. Curry stood against a wall, watching, waiting for his turn to talk.

“Well, I don’t learn about that,” Thompson said. “I owe Draymond some money in dominoes, so I don’t need to see him too again and again.”

Curry bent on the waist, doubled over with quiet laughter.

“I used to be half asleep,” Thompson continued. “Draymond and Bob were chatting their hearts away for six hours on a plane ride. I used to be just attempting to get some sleep.”

Credit…Jim Wilson/The Recent York Times

Curry said later, “All of the personalities are so different. Everybody comes from different backgrounds. But we’ve all jelled around a collective unit of how we do things, whether it’s within the locker room, on the plane, the hotels, like whatever it’s. We all know the way to have a good time and jell and keep things light but additionally understand what we’re attempting to do and why all of it matters when it comes to winning games.”

The following day they won their fourth championship together. They gathered in a crowd and jumped around together. When Curry won finals M.V.P., they chanted “M-V-P” together with everyone else onstage.

Long after the celebration ended, Thompson and Curry remained up there together, sitting together at times, dancing together at times. Thompson looked down off the stage and said he didn’t want to go away.

Curry descended before Thompson did, but first he stood on the highest step. He held a cigar between his lips, and clutched the M.V.P. trophy in his left hand.

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