Oakland: Inspired by injured teammate Kevin Durant and facing an emotional must-win game, the Golden State Warriors are counting upon resiliency and fighting spirit to stay alive in the NBA Finals.
Defending champion Golden State, seeking a third consecutive title and fourth in five seasons, entertains Toronto in game six Thursday needing a victory to pull level at 3-3 and force a game seven Sunday at Toronto.
“We’re going to have to will ourselves for another 48 minutes to stay alive,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “And whatever it’s going to take from every single guy in our jersey.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be a speech in the locker room, if there’s going to need to be words at all. We understand the moment and I think we can rally,” he added.
Durant, the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, sat out a month with a right calf injury before making a return in game five only to go down with a right Achilles tendon injury, needing help to leave the court and crutches to exit the arena.
The 30-year-old superstar’s brief comeback effort, leading the Warriors in the playoffs with 34.2 points a game, has provided extra motivation for the teammates who saw him give everything he had in the championship quest.
“We’ll be suiting up in front of Oracle Arena and with the amazing atmosphere and opportunity to play for him, and to kind of honor the sacrifice he made in terms of putting his body on the line,” Curry said.
“We’re going to give everything we got. We’re going to fight. We’re going to compete,” he added.
Golden State guard Klay Thompson will give his efforts in tribute to Durant. “It obviously inspires you to play harder knowing your best player can't be out there,” Thompson said. “You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there,” he added.
Only once in 34 opportunities has a team that trailed 3-1 in the NBA Finals won the title, that coming in 2016 when LeBron James rallied Cleveland over the Warriors. Only three teams have even forced a seventh game.
“When we step back on our floor for game six, that's all that matters. Everybody is facing fatigue at this point. No one cares who is tired or if you’re facing a little fatigue. You’ve got to do what you came here to do anyway,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said.
Warriors forward Kevon Looney has a chest injury and Andre Iguodala has a calf injury....