OAKLAND – Phase III of the Miracle Recovery unfolded like an action movie, hills and spills and before thrills and chills.
But the finale was precisely as desired by the audience at Oracle Arena. There was yet another breathtaking comeback victory, to ear-splitting cheers, followed by the perfunctory confetti and the trophy presentation.
With Stephen Curry playing the hero, the Warriors on Monday completed their epic comeback against Oklahoma City with a 96-88 victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
After going down 3-1 through four games and being utterly destroyed by the Thunder in Games 3 and 4, the Warriors returned home to win Game 5, pulled off an unforgettable comeback to win Game 6 in Oklahoma City and closed it out by coming from behind yet again in Game 7.
“It’s a pretty remarkable comeback,” coach Steve Kerr said. “And it shows a lot about our guys and their will and their grit.”
The Warriors needed to do miraculous things to beat the odds, and they did.
Which is why Curry’s response in the final seconds was so fitting. With victory assured, he sprinted toward fans and unleashed a yell of relief and elation and blissful affirmation.
“It was a cool moment, just knowing we came back and with like 20 seconds left we were up 10, so we had a little breathing room,” Curry said. “Obviously, there was still time on the clock. But that was a moment to kind of just take in the atmosphere.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, and for us to overcome that early deficit and claw our way back . . . and the way that we did it, with everybody having an impact – bench guys, starters, on the defensive end, obviously, we made shots – it was a very cool moment to enjoy that fan noise and understand we were on the brink of doing something very special.”
The Warriors became the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals and only the 10th, out of 233, do so in any NBA playoff series.
“The guys showed a lot of toughness, a lot of heart,” said Andre Iguodala, who made a rare start, replacing a healthy Harrison Barnes. “We could have easily started making some vacation plans, but we’ve got some competitors, guys who like competing, and we’ve done a lot this year.”
Roughly seven weeks after posting the greatest regular season in NBA history, winning 73 games, the Warriors have added yet another page to the book.
Curry scored 36 points – 24 in the second half, as the Warriors wiped out a 13-point second-quarter deficit and an eight-point deficit in the third. He scored 15 of the team’s 25 points in the final quarter.
The MVP stamped his name on the game. But so, too, did his teammates, for this was the epilogue of a three-act show. Curry and Klay Thompson carried the Warriors in Game 5, Thompson owned Game 6, the toughest of the three wins, and Curry took over in Game 7.
The bench also got involved in Game 7, with Shaun Livingston and Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa all playing a role in turning the game. Kerr played 11 men, and all of them entered the scoring column.
“This series was tough for us because we couldn’t find a consistent rotation off our bench because of how good OKC is, and how well-coached they are,” Kerr said. “Both sides were kind of trying to create matchups and counter different matchups. So we never really settled into a regular pattern off the bench, which is rare for us.
“But that’s what they forced us into. With everything on the line, our guys came through.”
All the while, as the Warriors were climbing out of that 3-1 ditch, Iguodala was primarily occupied with defending Thunder star Kevin Durant, who shot 39.5 percent over the final three games.
Draymond Green, who endured a tumultuous series, after Game 4 stated his belief that the Warriors were going to come back to win three straight after being blown out twice in a row. He said this in the visitor’s locker room, after he had laid a second consecutive stinker of a game. He sounded unrealistic, if not delusional.
Turns out, he nailed it.
“Like I said after Game 4, if anybody can do it, it’s this group,” Green said late Monday night. “Because once we figure something out, we can get it rolling. Although we lost Game 4, and we got punished, we figured out it wasn’t easy.
“That’s a great team we just beat, and we had to continue to fight. And I knew if we continued to fight, which I had no doubt in my mind that we would, that we could do it.”
It’s done. Done about as well as possible. The incredible season continues, thanks to a recovery that trashed the odds.