Did we lose to the Rockets (nope) are we going to the finals? (yup) [Fortywater voice]
First off, let us all take a a collective sigh of relief as the Warriors have notched another monumental victory in what is turning out to be a season for the history books. The toughest stretch of this championship journey is still yet to come as LeBron James is the proverbial wall that is now standing in the way of the Warriors first ring in 40 years.
As a lifetime Warriors fan, being able to watch Curry and the rest of the Warriors hoist up the Western Conference Championship trophy last night is probably the most exciting Warriors moment I have ever experienced. The last fifteen years of so of watching the Raiders and A's continually come up short in the playoffs has made this moment that much more special. The term "lifetime" fan can be easily thrown around these days, but I have my dad to thank for that. I called the old man first thing this morning to get a reaction from a real lifer.
I asked him if he remembered the last time the Warriors were in the Finals and he proudly told me he remembered it like it was yesterday. He was fifteen years old and it was the year he truly became a fan of the Warriors. He went on to tell me a story about how Al Attles and Rick Barry came into the restaurant he worked at in Sonoma County the following year, but he said he was too chicken to shake any hands, which in my opinion was a respectable move pops, let the champs eat in peace.
My dad's golden state of mind was passed down to me some sixteen years later, and I have the starter snapbacks and torn Chris Mullin posters to prove it. Not all Warriors fans are lucky be born into a household that remembers Tom Tolbert more as a player than a radio personality, but I have seen a lot of chatter on social media about "If you weren't a fan then (insert picture of crappy Warriors team), then you aren't a true fan now." That to me is BS. Your love and passion for a team has to start somewhere and for many people that is happening during this post season, much like it did for my dad in the '70s. Who knows, maybe someone who becomes a Dubs fan today will pass down their fandom to future generations. If you have been a fan of the Dubs for a majority of your lifetime, then obviously this season will mean more to you than it does to people who are just now tapping into the wonderful world of Warriors basketball. There is no need to outcast people who are late to the party.
Now please excuse me while I step down from my soap box to talk about this game 5 victory...
Game 5 wasn't easy, and quite frankly it was not looking very pretty after the first quarter. The Warriors' 17 points in the first quarter, which tied their lowest output for a first quarter all season, was a product of stale energy and poor ball movement.
The Warriors used a big second quarter from Klay Thompson to take a 52-46 halftime lead and from that point forward did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. Just when you thought Stephen Curry's Game 4 fall was possibly the worst thing that could have happened to the Warriors, Thompson received a flying knee to the side of the head from Trevor Ariza that would make Jon Jones smile.
Trevor Ariza with a flying knee to Klay Thompson's head. https://t.co/0zmlMF481Y— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 28, 2015
I don't believe Ariza meant to knee Klay on purpose (à la Bruce Bowen and Wally Szczerbiak), but that doesn't make it any less vicious. Thompson returned to the court shortly after without going through any concussion tests. He returned to the bench with what was called a right ear laceration that needed three stitches to patch up. After watching someone get a flying knee to the head, the last thing you want to see is blood dribbling from their ear, but that was the case with Thompson last night.
To make matters worse, what definitely looked like a concussion for Klay has been confirmed. According to Klay's dad, Thompson threw up after the game and was showing concussion like symptoms. Hopefully Klay can use the week off to get better, but this will definitely be a major headline to follow going into Game One of the Finals. It's unclear if Klay would have been able to re-enter the game last night, but I don't know who in their right mind would put someone back in the game after seeing him get hit in the head like that. For what it is worth, Mark Jackson said Klay Thompson was the toughest player on the Warriors next to Draymond Green during last night's telecast.
Curry led the way for the Warriors with an impressive line of 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals. Harrison Barnes was a key factor in a 13-4 fourth quarter run by the Warriors where he scored seven in a row by himself. Barnes finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and a slew of dunks throughout the game with my personal favorite coming with 7:10 remaining in the fourth, when the Black Falcon threw down a vicious slam that proceeded with a ticket to the gun show and a Warrior like yell to a raucous Oracle Arena. The jam put the Warriors up 15 and all but ended the Rockets season.
Dwight Howard finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds four blocks and one very interesting post game quote. Howard said after the game that he "is still a champion." Sounds like something your mom says to you after you lose.
The biggest story of Game 5 was James Harden and his abysmal end to a great statistical season. Harden finished with 14 points on 2 of 11 shooting and 13 turnovers, which is an NBA playoff record. The Warriors did not let Harden dribble the on ball defender to sleep much like he was doing in game 4. I also need to give a shoutout to my boy Lil' B the Basedgod for putting a curse on James Harden throughout the series for stealing his cooking dance. I'd watch out if I were you LeBron.
I'm sorry James harden all you had to do was explain you were doing the Lil B cooking dance - Lil B— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 28, 2015
Rockets coach Kevin McHale attributed the Warriors' offensive rebounding and the Rockets' turnovers and lack of ability to finish at the rim as the main reasons for the loss. The Warriors crashed the offensive glass extremely well in Game 5, as they out rebounded the Rockets 59-39 with 19 of those rebounds coming off the offensive glass.
While the Warriors did not turn in a "pretty" performance, their play exuded the grit and determination that is essential for a championship caliber team. Festus Ezeli led the way for the Dubs bench with 12 points and nine rebounds. The Warriors bench were a combined plus 41 (efficiency rating +/-) compared to the Rockets bench who were a negative 40. As the deepest team in the league it will be crucial for the Warriors bench to continue their high level of play throughout the Finals.
Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green both had a big night on the boards by snatching 14 and 13 rebounds respectively. Bogut had eight rebounds through the first six minutes of the game, but picked up early fouls that forced him to sit. When the Warriors get into foul trouble, it makes their bench shorter and ultimately plays into the hand of the opposition. The task of not fouling James Harden is practically impossible, and does not get any easier when guarding LeBron James.
The Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena next Thursday, June 4th. Let us all pray that Mark Jackson will not be calling the NBA Finals.