After defeating the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in San Francisco on Thursday, the Warriors took a 4-1 series victory and now await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
The Warriors, appearing in their first Finals since 2019, join the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers as the only NBA franchises to feature in six Finals over an eight-year span.
It’s a record that has led to comparisons with the dominant Bulls team of the 1990s, which featured Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
“I think the common denominator is just talented players who are fierce competitors,” Kerr said of comparisons between the two teams.
“Whether you talk about Michael [Jordan] and Scottie [Pippen], Steph [Curry], Draymond [Green], Klay [Thompson], it takes a special kind of athlete to have both dynamics.
“The skill and the athleticism and all that, but to also be just incredibly competitive and to want to win so badly. It’s the only way you can have a run like that because you get exhausted, you get tired, you get frustrated.
“If you don’t have that type of competitive desire and that type of skill combined, it’s just not going to happen six times out of eight years.”
After reaching five straight NBA Finals — and winning three of them — between 2015 and 2019, the following year saw the Warriors end the season with the worst record in the NBA.
But Thursday’s win against Dallas marked a return to familiar territory for the Warriors. Thompson, who has endured two injury-plagued seasons, top-scored with 32 points, while Andrew Wiggins added 18, Green 17, and Curry 15.
“It’s just such a surreal feeling,” said Thompson.
“It’s hard to put into words really. This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”
Curry was also awarded the inaugural Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award having averaged 23.8 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.6 rebounds over the course of the series.
“With the adversity that we hit over the last two years,” he said, “we never lost the faith, but you understand how hard of a process it’s going to be to climb the mountain again … We are extremely proud of what it took to get back here.”
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics lead the Heat 3-2 and will reach the Finals if they win on Friday.