OAKLAND – The Warriors have made this trip so many times already. As the Warriors gathered for practice on Wednesday at Oracle Arena, though, this felt different.
“It hit me a little bit today driving here,” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston admitted.
The reason? The Warriors play the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in what will mark the team’s final game at Oracle Arena. The Warriors will move next season to Chase Center in San Francisco next season so they can enjoy more modern amenities and a higher profit margin stemmed from privately financing the arena.
Draymond Green called the development “bitter sweet” because of the organization’s 47-year-old history at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have also become emotionally lately because they lost a player that helped them win two consecutive NBA titles with two Finals MVP’s. They will play Game 6 without Kevin Durant, who had surgery on Wednesday to repair a rupture in his right Achilles tendon. All of which gives the Warriors an interesting backdrop entering a potential elimination game.
“I expect us to obviously come out and play as hard as we can,” Klay Thompson said. “We’re not even thinking about the future. We’re just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle we’re about to give our fans. And I expect our fans to be the loudest they have ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit he would bring to the fight. I know our fans will do that because we deserve it, but more importantly Kevin does for what he gave this team and this organization. There wouldn’t be banners if it wasn’t for his presence. So we expect our crowd to be loud for him.”
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(Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
Perhaps many in the crowd carry signs titled “In the name of Kevin.” It would only be appropriate considering what the Warriors have experienced. Nearly all season, Durant’s presence caused a looming shadow for various reasons.
The good? Durant averaged 26.0 points on 52.1 percent shooting and a league-leading 32.3 points on 51.4 percent shooting in the postseason. The bad? Durant’s pending free agency sparked endless speculation about his future and even an argument with Green.
The stupid? After Durant injured his right calf against Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, an unfair narrative emerged that the Warriors are better without Durant simply because they won a decisive Game 6 and then swept Portland in the Western Conference Finals. The emotional? After scoring 11 points in 12 minutes in his return in Game 5, Durant injured his right Achilles tendon and prompted the team to support him and defend his character.
No wonder Warriors forward Andre Iguodala described this season as “a circus more than a roller coaster.” Hence, the Warriors might experience one wild ride in Game 6.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports