By no means should Golden State’s 3-1 comeback be discredited, but the Oklahoma City Thunder straight up lost this series — on the other hand, the Warriors showed why they’re one of the NBA’s greatest teams. Stephen Curry played just as a back-to-back MVP would, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green did their parts to help bring the Warriors back to the Finals with their 96-88 Game 7 victory.
The opening period was pretty ugly for both teams as they both shot under 36% from the field. Kevin Durant, however, was locked in and shot a perfect 3/3 for seven of OKC’s 24 points. The rest of the box score is perplexing because KD took the least amount of shots out of all the starters — in a series-clinching game with a Finals appearance on the line, how does the best scorer in the league take just three shots in the first quarter? Fortunately, it didn’t bite the Thunder as Golden State put up just 19 points, and Curry was held to a very inefficient eight points on 3/8 shooting. Thompson, after lighting up the second half of Game 6, had just one point and missed all four of his shots from the field.
Related: Cavaliers smash Raptors, advance to Finals
Holding a five-point lead, Russell Westbrook came out in his usual attack mode and put up nine points in the second period. His shooting was a little erratic, and he finished 3/8, but he got to the foul line four times (hit three) and recorded just one turnover. Enes Kanter was very productive off the bench with eight points and three rebounds in less than five minutes of play. Again, however, Durant was seldom featured in the offense and took just two shots, hitting one for two points. Golden State started to capitalize, and it was because of the right hand of Klay Thompson. After being scoreless in the first, KT got hot and knocked in four threes for 12 points, bringing the Warrior’s total to 23. The rest of the team didn’t have much: Curry scored four on 2/3, Green missed all four of his shots, and Shaun Livingston and Marresse Speights were the only bench players to score.
Out of the break, the Thunder collapsed. Hard. They had a tough time covering the three-point line, and the Warriors torched them, going 6/12 from deep with Curry alone going 3/6. By the end of the period, Golden State had raised their shooting percentage to 48 and dropped 29 on points on Oklahoma City’s lax defense. Durant got more involved in the offense this quarter, but his efforts were squandered, and he shot just 2/5 for 6 points — OKC as a team put up just 12. Russ missed on all three of his shot attempts and was unable to get to the line, and Serge Ibaka and Adams combined to shoot just 2/8. There was a huge momentum shift, and the Thunder seemingly had all their energy sucked from them as Golden State suddenly had an 11-point lead.
As expected, Durant became the focal point of the Thunder’s offense in the fourth. He went for 12 points on 4/9 shooting but was fortunate enough to get a ton of help from his supporting cast this time around. Ibaka was remarkably effective, making his way to the free-throw line five times, knocking down four, and finishing with nine total points. Westbrook made some great plays and finished with five points, five assists, and no turnovers as the Thunder were able to outscore Golden State 28-25. Curry, though, was simply spectacular.
He checked in with roughly nine minutes left in the period, and on an ensuing play, the Thunder cut the deficit to four on an Ibaka three. Curry then put in seven straight points, starting with a step-back three over Kevin Durant. He was quiet until 3:10, when he went beat Durant off the dribble, and finger rolled it over Westbrook. He couldn’t help but chuckle on his way back down the court. The dagger was a three with 26.8 seconds left after shedding Roberson with a behind-the-back dribble.
Curry had 36 and finished as the game’s leading scorer, and Kevin Durant went punch-for-punch with 27 of his own. Westbrook sort of shot OKC in the foot shooting 7/21, but he did manage 19 points and 13 assists.
Just like that, the stage is set. The 2016 NBA Finals kick off on Thursday, June 2 at 9:00 PM EST in Oakland. It’s a heavily-anticipated rematch of last year’s Finals, where Golden State won in six.