Memorial Day evening in Oakland felt serious. Bernie Sanders was downtown talking revolution. And a few miles east at Oracle Arena, Warriors fans arrived earlier than usual, in their seats and unleashing frequent and ferocious chants long before the opening tip.
It wasn’t the Finals, yet it was a big deal: Only nine teams had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA playoff series before tonight.
Now, make that 10.
The Warriors rode a hot-hand and fiery defense by MVP Steph Curry in the second half to a 96-88 victory in game seven of the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors clawed back from a 3-1 hole in a series and after getting torched twice on the road by the hottest team in the league, the Thunder.
Err, former hottest team in the league.
The Thunder were prone to choking in the fourth quarter all regular season, and that translated to a seven-game series tonight in Oakland.
Curry was the most aggressive version of himself tonight, perhaps save for that overtime game-four blitz versus the Portland Trailblazers. He owned the second half and ended the night with 36 points on 7-12 shooting from behind the arc.
The Thunder held the advantage going into halftime. Except for a couple spurts by Klay Thompson in the middle of the second quarter, the Warriors offense was worse than anemic in the first two quarters. They were playing tight.
Save for the final two minutes, when Curry started warming up by draining trays after getting the switch on Steven Adams. And, similar to the final minutes of game six in Oklahoma, forcing the Thunder to cough it up on a couple of key possessions.
For a moment, it appeared that Russell Westbrook would make a statement going into the locker room, with a three-point play converted at the stripe. But then, with less than six seconds on the clock, Curry ran the court and kissed a layup off the glass with his left as time expired, which foreshadowed his second-half dominance.
The Warriors will be a tough juggernaut to slow down in the Finals after this comeback. They’ve seen bottom this postseason, and it’s unlikely this momentum will fade against Cleveland on Thursday night.
Like the song playing when the Warriors came out of the locker room tonight, the team appears to be headed “All the Way Up.” Again.
Curry’s momentum continued into the third, as the Warriors went on a run for the entire quarter. Shaun Livingston and Anderson Varejao put in strong minutes off the bench on both ends of the court. They held the Thunder to just 12 in the third, and the Dubs took at 71-60 lead into the final quarter.