As the final buzzer sounded, superstars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green walked with their teammates to the visitor locker room, dejected, after receiving a 118-94 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It seemed all was lost for the defending champs. They had dropped 3 of the first 4 games of the series to Oklahoma City, including losing by a combined 52 points away from home.
Lose one more game, and everyone would remember the winning-est team in NBA history as chokers, as a team that couldn’t finish what they started.
If there was any solace to the situation, the Warriors would be able to play at home for the next game. But then, if they won, they would have to return to OKC.
“This is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn’t over,” Curry said, according to ESPN.com.
And the series wasn’t over. Golden State responded by winning 120-111 Thursday night. After hitting a layup that put the Warriors up 10 with a minute remaining, Curry ran up the court yelling, “We ain’t going home! We ain’t going home!”
Then they did Saturday what they couldn’t do before, they won in OKC, defeating the Thunder 108-101 in an exciting Game 6, in which the Warriors outscored the Thunder 19-5 in the closing minutes.
According to the San Francisco Gate, Game 7 received the highest ratings of any NBA game in history. All eyes were turned to watch to see if the Warriors could come back from the brink of elimination.
The Warriors did not disappoint. Thompson, after missing his first seven shots, finished with 21 points and shot over 50 percent from three point range.
Curry scored 36 points and broke another record. He hit 32 three pointers in the series, a playoff record. And, oh yeah, Thompson hit 30, which was also broke the previous record.
The Warriors had done what only 9 teams had done previously in the history of the NBA, and that was come back and win a 7 game series after being down 3-1. How was this possible for a team that was absolutely dominated in games 3 and 4?
The reason why became apparent in game 7. The Thunder, on one hand, looked frustrated and seemed to be arguing and pointing fingers.
The Warriors, on the other hand, were encouraging and strategizing together. There was a sense of unity and teamwork with Golden State, while OKC seemed to go into panic mode.
This sense of unity and trust seemed to be felt not only between the players, but head coach Steve Kerr as well. Holding a 6 point lead late in the 3rd quarter, Kerr put in backups Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao, to give the starters much needed rest.
Barbosa and Varejao responded with a combined 4 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and some crucial defensive stops. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan went only 2 deep in the bench with Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters, electing to play 4 of his starters for 39, 43, 45, and 46 minutes.
Now the Warriors move on to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals, beginning Thursday night, a rematch of last years finals. Last year, the Warriors overcame a 2-1 series deficit to the Cavs to win the NBA finals.
Should the Warriors fall back down in the finals, the memory of sitting in the locker room in Oklahoma City, dejected, on the brink of elimination, and how they responded to that situation, could prove the difference in determining the NBA Champions.