Friday night’s win over the Rockets capped the Dubs’ 17th postseason series victory since 2015, and judging from the team’s reaction, this one was perhaps more satisfying than any of them not resulting in the team’s hoisting of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
“Like yeah, we’re used to winning, but this one felt amazing,” Draymond Green said during his postgame press conference. “Just the way it all unfolded, just getting contributions from everybody, this one felt really good.”
The way it unfolded was Kevin Durant getting injured in the third quarter of Game 5 and not being able to play in Friday’s Game 6. Down a pair of starters – don’t forget about DeMarcus Cousins’ torn left quadriceps suffered in the first round series with the Clippers – the Dubs figured to lean on Stephen Curry for some reliable scoring.
Initially, that didn’t work out so hot. Curry once again got into early foul trouble and was held scoreless for the first half, yet the Warriors were even with the Rockets going into the break, thanks in large part to some gritty play from the team’s reserves, who had 20 first half points and wound up out-scoring Houston’s bench 33-17 for the game.
The bulk of that scoring came from Kevon Looney (14 points, four offensive rebounding) and Shaun Livingston, whose 11 points were the most he has scored in a game in nearly four months. Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell, Jonas Jerebko and Alfonzo McKinnie also played meaningful and impactful minutes as Curry and Green faced foul trouble.
“I’m just incredibly proud of Jordan (Bell) and Jonas (Jerebko)” Head Coach Steve Kerr said. “Kevon (Looney) had a great series and Quinn Cook – to do what he did tonight, coming into the game without really having played the whole series – those guys were amazing and really a huge factor in the win.”
Some guy named Curry also factored into the win, scoring all 33 of his points in the second half. He was 9-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-9 on 3-pointers in the third and fourth quarters, his career-best 23 points in the fourth quarter assisted by repeated trips to the free throw line with the Rockets in extend-the-game foul mode in the closing moments.
“Going from zero points at halftime with three fouls and a complete non-factor in the game, and then completely took over the game on a night when everything was going wrong,” Kerr said. “He found a way to turn it around.”
That Curry was able to turn it around was somewhat of a repeat of the Dubs’ gritty Game 5 effort in which he had 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, lifting the Dubs to victory in a roller coaster of a game in which Durant went out with injury.
Kerr called his team f***ing giants after that win, a sentiment that carried through Friday.
“They’re giants. They’re champions,” Kerr said of his squad. “These guys are a historically good basketball team and you don’t do this and do what these guys have done without an incredible combination of talent and character.”
This was certainly a feel-good victory for the Dubs, and the fact that it came against the Rockets is definitely a big part of it as well. During the regular season, Houston beat the Dubs three out of four times. And last season, the Rockets had a 3-2 advantage in the Western Conference Finals before the Dubs responded with their backs against the wall.
Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has made no secret about his obsession to beat the Warriors, and the fact that the Dubs have now ended Houston’s season in four of the last five NBA Playoffs only adds fuel to the competitive rivalry between the clubs.
“That team is one of the very best teams we’ve played during this five-year run. They put so much pressure on you at both ends of the floor,” Kerr said. “I can’t speak any more highly of Houston and their grit, and competitiveness, and their talent. That was an absolute grind, just like last year – that is a great basketball team.”
Now, the Warriors move on to the Western Conference Finals, which begin on Tuesday evening at Oracle Arena. But considering the opponent won’t be determined until Sunday’s Game 7 matinee matchup between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers takes place, it’s perfectly OK to enjoy this series victory over the Rockets that was satisfactory for so many reasons.