Oakland, Tuesday @PeopleSport11
There’s one last tipoff coming for the Golden State Warriors at the NBA’s oldest arena, with the reigning league champions hoping to pull off one last victory for Oakland fans.
The Warriors defeated Toronto 106-105 Monday to pull within 3-2 in the best-of-sevenNBA Finals, forcing a game six on Friday morning at Oracle Arena.
“Our goal was to get them back on the plane, get them back to Oakland. We owe our fans one more game in Oracle,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said.
With Golden State moving to a new $1 billion (Sh100 billion) arena in San Francisco for next season, the playoff matchup marks the final contest at the 53-year-old venue, which the Warriors have called home since 1971.
After losing twice at Oracle to the Raptors last week, the Warriors would force a winner-take-all seventh game on Sunday in Toronto if they can pull off a final home victory at Oracle.
“It has been an incredible experience to play and coach at Oracle and hopefully we can go out in style,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
The arena, originally built for a National Hockey League expansion team that only lasted from 1967-1976, has hosted 66 concerts of The Grateful Dead, the band’s most appearances at any venue.
The Warriors won two NBA titles while based in Philadelphia before moving to California and captured another in 1975, but have won three of the past four in their current dynasty run.
Only title won
The only title won by the Warriors at Oracle Arena came in 2017 when Golden State defeated Cleveland in five games.
“This building has been very special. So I think it’s a very special time,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said.
Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, recalled a seven-game first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013 when asked about his favourite moments, recalling the loud support from a fan base that had seen only two prior playoff trips since 1994.
Meanwhile, when Golden State star Kevin Durant went down 12 minutes into his long-awaited comeback game on Monday in the NBA Finals, players on both sides were stunned.
Durant, the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, suffered a right Achilles tendon injury in the Warriors’ 106-105 victory over Toronto, trimming the Raptors’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
“It was a real shock when he went down.
There was just a couple minutes where it all seemed so eerie and strange and it took maybe a little bit for both teams to collect themselves,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Durant, who missed the past month with a right calf injury, planted his foot, pulled up and sat down on the floor. He was helped to the locker room and left the arena on crutches. -AFP