The Golden State Warriors evened up the NBA Finals on Sunday, comfortably defeating the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday.

Stephen Curry was at his transformative best, finishing up with 29 points on nine-of-21 shooting, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Pertinently, facing an 0-2 series deficit, putting Curry in high pick-and-roll actions with Draymond Green forced the Celtics into tricky defensive situations.

The Warriors were able to get the shots they wanted as a result of Curry's presence, as well as the lingering injury troubles of Robert Williams III affecting Boston's rim protection.

Gary Payton returned after his gruesome injury sustained against the Memphis Grizzlies and did not miss a beat in the Finals atmosphere, pitching in with seven points, three assists and three rebounds while providing critical defensive presence. 

They scored 40 points in the paint over the game in comparison to the Celtics' 24, while shooting 40.5 per cent from the perimeter.

This came despite Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined six-of-20 from beyond the arc.

After their offensive explosion in the fourth quarter to take the opening game, the Celtics shot 37.5 per cent from the floor, while 18 turnovers were critical.

The Dubs scored 33 points off those Celtics turnovers, blowing the game wout with a 35-14 third quarter, capped off with an extraordinary buzzer-beating three-pointer from half-court.

Marcus Smart was ineffective on both ends of the floor, failing to restrict Curry in pick-and-roll situations while going one-of-six from the floor and committing five turnovers.

Draymond Green lauded the performance of Stephen Curry on both sides of the ball after the Golden State Warriors blew the Boston Celtics out 107-88 on Sunday.

The Warriors were up by 29 points at one stage in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, on their way to evening the series up in San Francisco.

Curry was transformative on and off the ball in both offensive and defensive senses, finishing with 29 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and something even more reflective of his overall impact, an astounding net rating of +39.6.

Green was full of praise after the win, putting Curry's status even before Kevin Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets into perspective.

"I thought he was incredible," Green said post-game. "Most importantly, his decision-making was great. He got off the ball, he didn't drive into traffic, he took what the defence gave him.

"I think for the first six minutes of that game he had zero points. He wasn't forcing anything and let the game come to him, and we all followed that.

"Our offence is always a lot of Steph. It all starts with Steph. When KD [Durant] was here it still started with Steph, and that's the way it's going to be."

The barrage of three-pointers by the Warriors obscured Curry's three steals and ability to stay in front of the ball, especially given the latter has been an important factor in each of the Warriors' previous three series in the Western Conference this post-season.

Despite offensive focus from opposition teams onto Curry, Green insisted the former unanimous MVP has worked to improve defensively and should be respected on that side of the court.

"I have been talking about it for the last couple of years, how much he's improved on that side of the ball" Green said. "Teams used to try to call him into every action and just try to pick on him.

"That's doesn't work anymore. He guards, and we're all there behind him if he does need help but hasn't been needing that often and it's great.

"I've spoken about how much stronger he is. He's able to hold his ground, so you're not able to bump him off his spot, and that's been huge for us. I'm not shocked he's playing that type of defence."

The Golden State Warriors evened up the NBA Finals on Sunday, comfortably defeating the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday.

Stephen Curry was at his transformative best, finishing up with 29 points on nine-of-21 shooting, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Pertinently, facing an 0-2 series deficit, putting Curry in high pick-and-roll actions with Draymond Green forced the Celtics into tricky defensive situations.

The Warriors were able to get the shots they wanted as a result of Curry's presence, as well as the lingering injury troubles of Robert Williams III affecting Boston's rim protection.

Gary Payton returned after his gruesome injury sustained against the Memphis Grizzlies and did not miss a beat in the Finals atmosphere, pitching in with seven points, three assists and three rebounds while providing critical defensive presence. 

They scored 40 points in the paint over the game in comparison to the Celtics' 24, while shooting 40.5 per cent from the perimeter.

This came despite Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined six-of-20 from beyond the arc.

After their offensive explosion in the fourth quarter to take the opening game, the Celtics shot 37.5 per cent from the floor, while 18 turnovers were critical.

The Dubs scored 33 points off those Celtics turnovers, blowing the game wout with a 35-14 third quarter, capped off with an extraordinary buzzer-beating three-pointer from half-court.

Marcus Smart was ineffective on both ends of the floor, failing to restrict Curry in pick-and-roll situations while going one-of-six from the floor and committing five turnovers.

Stephen Curry has backed his Golden State Warriors team-mates to "figure it out" after their Game 1 defeat to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Game 2 of the championship series takes place in Chase Center on Sunday and Curry called on the Warriors to "flip the script".

The Celtics won the first encounter 120-108 on Thursday, turning things around dramatically in the fourth quarter, scoring 40 points to the Warriors' 16 to take the win.

However, Curry - who still top scored with 34 points - believes his team can respond to that setback, outlining after practice on Saturday when he had seen the necessary resilience from the Warriors this season.

"Even moments throughout the regular season where things are starting to get away from us a little bit at times," he said. "And kind of have your 'come-to-Jesus' moment, like we need to play right. How are we going to flip the script and get things back on the right track? We usually responded pretty well.

"It's the first time for a lot of things with this particular group. We are here in the Finals for a reason, because we figured it out along the way. If we're going to get back in this series, we've got to figure it out again."

Draymond Green, who claimed 11 rebounds but made just two of 12 field goal attempts on Thursday, said the Warriors need to improve their defensive performance. 

"We have to play with more force on the defensive end," he said. "I think there were times in the game when they didn't feel us; when you're playing against a great team at this level at this point in the season, they have to feel you every possession.

"We just have to make sure they feel us every possession."

Coach Steve Kerr added his assertion that the experience of Curry and Green will be vital for his team if they are to win their first championship since 2018.

"Draymond and Steph have been in the Finals six times now," Kerr said. "They have seen it all. They have seen everything. They have won championships. They have lost championships. They have had their heart broken. They have had parades.

"This is all part of it. So that's the right mental approach, and that's one that's born out of experience."

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart insists his side's run to the NBA Finals has been borne of a more balanced defence heading into Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors.

The Celtics gave up the fewest points per game in the regular season at 104.5 while leading the league in defensive rating (106.9) and net rating (+7.5), while they only trail the Milwaukee Bucks for defended field goals made these playoffs at 43.3 per cent.

Smart, who received the Defensive Player of the Year and a third All-Defensive First-Team selection this season, has been a significant contributor in that regard with 1.2 steals along with his 15.7 points per game in these playoffs.

The 28-year-old believes it has been a collective effort for Boston in comparison to previous seasons, however, with every player pulling their weight.

"No offence to those other teams, but there was always somebody on the court that we had to cover for," he said. "Teams did a good job of exploiting that, and especially in the playoffs.

"It's all about adjustments and match-ups, and if it ain't broke don't fix it, so somebody would always pick on a guy that we had and we'd always have to help, and it put a strain on our defence. This year, kind of tough to do that.

"In every position, everybody can hold their own and switch and guard multiple positions, and that's what makes us stronger."

It was the other end that gave the Celtics Game 1 in San Francisco on Thursday, though, converting on 21 three-pointers at an eye-watering 51.2 per cent.

Jayson Tatum's dribble penetration was key, allowing for defensive collapses that then created relatively open looks for his teammates.

Smart believes that might change in Game 2, with the Warriors defensive help staying a little closer to home.

"I wouldn't say we were surprised," he said. "You've got two great players in Jaylen and Jayson on your team, everybody's focused on those guys, going to make everybody else beat you and you live with the results.

"An adjustment I can see them making, just a little bit more tighter on us and trying to make our shots even tougher, not that open. We're basketball players, just like those guys and we're going to have to adjust to whatever they do."

Andre Iguodala defended the Golden State Warriors and stalwarts Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, claiming their incredible careers should be appreciated "a lot more".

Iguodala, like Curry, Thompson and Green, is playing in his sixth Finals in eight years with the Warriors.

The veteran wing was the NBA Finals MVP in 2015, but his three team-mates have been the chief protagonists of a remarkable Golden State dynasty.

The previous five Finals have yielded three titles, yet the Warriors have work to do to add a fourth with this team after losing 120-108 in Game 1 at home to the Boston Celtics.

This is the first time the Warriors have lost Game 1 at home in the Finals, although the last team to suffer such a defeat were the 2013 Miami Heat, who recovered to win the championship.

Although these circumstances are new, there is little Curry, Thompson and Green have not yet achieved, and they were the subject of praise from Iguodala on Saturday.

"The overall sentiment for those three guys, after we won the first one, was that they were going to continue to be this dominant for this long," he said.

"I think we take it for granted because we're so close to our athletes now, we're so close to them on social media. We start to forget and take for granted.

"We should appreciate them a lot more. It's a really long run to go to the Finals, for this group, six out of eight years. It doesn't happen every day.

"Only the greats, real greats do it – LeBron's the only one around our era that's been able to have the same effect in terms of winning and getting this far.

"We've made it look normal, where people take it for granted and take certain shots at us. In previous generations, throughout sports in general, people understood how tough it really was."

Coach Steve Kerr is backing his key men to bounce back, even if the series opener was particularly painful as the Warriors threw the game away in a fourth quarter in which they were outscored 40-16.

Aided by a 17-0 run, that is the Celtics' biggest point differential in any single quarter of any road playoff game in their history.

"Draymond and Steph have been in the Finals six times now," Kerr said.

"They've seen it all, they've seen everything. They've won championships, they've lost championships. They've had their hearts broken, they've had parades.

"This is all part of it. That's the right mental approach, and it's one that is borne out of experience."

Meanwhile, Thompson suggested the early setback could benefit the Warriors after they "got comfortable".

"It was a harsh reminder but something we all needed to go through, including myself," he said. "It's about how we respond tomorrow, which I am very excited for."

The Boston Celtics stole home-court advantage with their impressive win against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals – but it is a long series, and both teams have some adjustments to make.

In the Celtics' 120-108 victory, Jayson Tatum did not shoot the ball well (three-of-17 from the field), but made up for it with his playmaking, dishing a career-high 13 assists to take advantage of an outlier shooting performance from the rest of his team.

For the Warriors, a dynamic 38-24 third period had them leading by 12 heading into the last, before a fourth-quarter bombardment saw a 103-100 lead turn into a 117-103 deficit courtesy of a 17-0 run.

Stephen Curry was spectacular, with 21 points and a Finals-record six three-pointers in just the first quarter, going on to finish with 34 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

With Game 2 scheduled for Sunday night, here is one key adjustment we could see from both teams as the series progresses, and a storyline to watch.

 

Warriors play no more than one big at a time

When the Warriors were at the peak of their dynasty, Draymond Green would play center, surrounded by four perimeter players.

Due to his excellent play this postseason – as well as playing all 82 regular season games, starting 80 – center Kevon Looney has earned a significant playoff role. 

He was the difference-maker when trusted with an extended run in his side's Game 6 closeout against the Memphis Grizzlies, collecting 22 rebounds, and he was terrific against a Dallas Mavericks side lacking a true center, averaging 10.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and three assists per game for the series.

To put the blame of the Game 1 loss on Looney is simply wrong. He was not just serviceable, he was good, with nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks in his 25 minutes – but the Warriors are simply not the same beast on the offensive end when he and Green are on the floor at the same time.

However, this does not mean they must bench Looney, but instead the Warriors may be forced into some difficult conversations about the effectiveness of Green in this series.

Green is no longer the explosive athlete he was at the peak of his powers – when he was clearly the best defensive player in the NBA – and without that athleticism he begins to feel like the 6'6 center that he is.

Calling him a non-factor on the offensive end is disrespectful due to his incredible basketball IQ and the value he adds with his ball-movement, passing and screening – but these are areas Looney has quietly excelled in as well.

Looney, significantly bigger at 6'9, matched Green with five assists, showing plenty of similar reads and the ability to function in a largely similar role on the offensive end. He also grabbed six offensive rebounds, providing serious tangible value in the form of extra possessions, while also being the Warriors' only real rim protector.

Green will likely not shoot two-of-12 from the field again – missing all four of his three-point attempts and all three of his free throws – but if he is weighing you down offensively while not bringing his once-outlier defensive ability, it just may be a Looney series against the real size of Al Horford and Robert Williams III.

Draymond Green assured the Golden State Warriors have nothing to worry about after the Boston Celtics secured victory in Games 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Warriors were in the ascendancy for large parts of the game, leading 32-28 after the first quarter, with Stephen Curry hitting a Finals record six threes in a quarter from eight attempts.

The Celtics responded to take a slender 56-54 half-time lead, but Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole starred to send Golden State into the final quarter 92-80 up.

However, there was to be another twist as Boston went on a rampant 40-16 fourth-quarter run to snatch a 120-108 road win at Chase Center.

Al Horford hit a career-high eight threes on his way to 26 points, while Derrick White set a new season-high from deep, hitting five-of-eight for his crucial 21 points off the bench.

Experienced campaigner Green pinpointed the pair, along with Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, as he called for calm from the Warriors in the seven-game series.

"They stayed within striking distance and they made shots late," Green told reporters after the loss.

"They hit 21 threes and Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Derrick White combined for 15. Those guys are good shooters, but they combined for what... 15-for-23, from those guys. We'll be fine.

"We'll be fine. We'll figure out the ways we can stop them from getting those threes and take them away. I don't think it was a rhythm thing.

"We pretty much dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes, so we'll be fine."

Boston Celtics big-man Al Horford called Jayson Tatum a "special player" after they came back from a 12-point deficit at three-quarter time to defeat the Golden State Warriors 120-108 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Celtics were on the ropes after the Warriors unleashed a 38-24 third-quarter to seemingly take control of the contest, threatening to run away with things as Stephen Curry had 30 points up to three-quarter time.

But the Warriors had no answer for the barrage from long range that came in the final period, with the Celtics hitting nine-of-12 from deep in the quarter and 21-of-41 for the game as the two sides combined to hit a Finals record 40 three-pointers.

The Celtics ended up shooting 15-of-22 from the field in the fourth, winning the quarter 40-16, despite Tatum not scoring in the final 16 minutes of play. 

Instead, Tatum finished with a career-high 13 assists, and Al Horford – who himself had a career-high six three-pointers with his 26 points – told NBA TV that the league is seeing the evolution of the Celtics star.

"He's letting people know man, Jayson is a special player," he said."Even this year, the growth is unbelievable with him. 

"He's the kind of guy where – tonight he was passing, getting assists, getting other people involved while he struggled a little bit shooting – but he's always going to find a way. He's always going to continue to get better.

"That's who we follow – offensively he gets us going, he defends, and then he has the responsibility to find and make plays for others. His maturation is unbelievable, it's something I'm really proud of, because I've seen him grow."

He added: "When the Celtics trade happened, it was something I was grateful for, and straight away I told Jayson. 

"I said 'hey, I can't wait for us to be in those positions, in Conference Finals, and the NBA Finals' – because I believed that much in the group, and I believed that much in him."

When asked about his new career-high in his post-game media appearance, Tatum said it was something first-year head coach Ime Udoka addressed at the start of their relationship.

"That was kind of his message from day-one, just to challenge me to be the best player I can be, and improve other areas of my game," he said.

"We watched a lot of film throughout the course of the season… obviously playmaking was one [area of focus], drawing a lot of attention, and just to help my team out as much as possible.

"He's done a great job of challenging myself, and the group in that aspect."

Tatum was key in keeping the Celtics offense clicking, but his shot was not falling, finishing three-of-17 from the field. 

When asked how he felt about his inability to put the ball in the basket, Tatum emphasised his team-first mentality.

"Ecstatic – 40 points in the fourth quarter," he said. "[Jaylen Brown], Al, Payton [Pritchard], [Derrick] White, those guys made big shots, and timely shots, as well.

"And we won, right. I had a bad shooting night, but I just tried to impact the game in other ways. 

"We're in the Finals, all I was worried about was trying to get a win, and we did. That's all that matters at this point.

"I don't expect to shoot that bad again, but if it means we keep winning, I'll take it."

The Warriors were aggressive in trying to make sure Tatum had no clean looks, and he said sometimes basketball is a simple game.

"Just reading the play – they do a great job of helping, and things like that," he said.

"It's as simple as – if you draw two, find somebody that's open. That's what I was trying to do."

He added: "This time of the season, you feel great after a win, and you feel terrible when you lose, but you've got to just be able to stay mellow, and stay balanced.

"Especially this early – it's far from over, it's just one game, and we have to be ready to respond.

"They're going to make adjustments... we've got to be prepared."

Game 2 will remain in Golden State, before the series heads to Boston for Game 3 and Game 4.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged his team were second-best on Thursday, losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals at home to the Boston Celtics 120-108.

The Celtics were automatic in the fourth quarter and comfortably overturned a 92-80 deficit at the final interval, shooting nine-of 12 from beyond the arc to outscore the Warriors 40-16.

Al Horford hit a career-high six-of-eight from the perimeter on the way to 26 points, while Derrick White hit five-from eight as he put up a critical 21 points off the bench.

After the loss, Kerr conceded there was not much the Warriors could do to defeat the Celtics amid that kind of shooting performance, despite going 42 per cent from the perimeter themselves.

"To beat Boston if they're making 21 threes, getting a combined 11 from Horford and White, give them credit," Kerr said post-game. "They knocked down every big shot in the fourth quarter. Boston just played a brilliant quarter, they came in and earned the win.

"I thought we had a couple of turnovers, a couple of bad possessions offensively and they just pounced. They took advantage of every opportunity, and moved the ball well. You make five-six threes in a row in the fourth quarter, that's tough to overcome.

"We'll watch the tape and learn from it and see what we can do better. My gut reaction to what I just witnessed, they just came in and played a hell of a fourth quarter, and you've got to give them credit."

After a finely poised first-half, the Warriors were led by Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who combined for 28 points off 10-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Kerr insists that despite the fourth-quarter turnaround, his side will be able to adjust to cause and effect of that late Celtics barrage.

"We feel confident with our ability to score against them but, like I said, you give up 40 in the fourth and the other team makes 21 threes, it's going to be tough to win.

"It felt to me like we didn't close out very well in the first half and that allowed them to get going a little bit. Again, have to watch the tape and see where the breakdowns occurred."

The Boston Celtics won Game 1 of the NBA Finals 120-105 on the road against the Golden State Warriors, with the teams combining for the most made three-pointers ever in a Finals game.

Early on it looked like it was going to be the Stephen Curry show, as he finished the first quarter with 21 points – hitting an NBA Finals record six threes in a quarter, from eight attempts – as the Warriors led 32-28 at the first break.

Boston's adjustments at quarter-time had an immediate effect, holding Curry scoreless in the second period while winning the quarter 28-22, heading into half-time leading 56-54.

Jayson Tatum struggled with his shooting, but made up for it with his playmaking, with seven assists in the first half, while Jaylen Brown had 12 points and Marcus Smart had 10 to pick up the slack.

A consistent theme with the great Warriors teams of recent years, their ability to explode in the third quarter in front of their home fans was on full display, hitting six-of-11 threes coming out of half-time.

Andrew Wiggins had 12 points in the quarter, Curry had nine, and Jordan Poole had seven, as that trio combined for 28 to carry the Warriors to a 38-24 period, earning a 92-80 lead heading into the last.

As impressive as the third quarter was for the Warriors, the fourth was even more so for the Celtics, as their red-hot shooting coincided with their best defensive stretch of the game.

The Celtics shot nine-of-12 from long range in the fourth, and 15-of-22 from the field, while holding the Warriors to just seven made field goals, turning the last period into a 40-16 rout.

It was a historic game from beyond the arc as the two sides combined to hit an NBA Finals record of 40 threes, with the Celtics shooting a blistering 51 per cent (21-of-41) while the Warriors were also terrific at 42 per cent (19-of-45).

Boston's Al Horford hit a career-high from long range, going six-of-eight on his way to 26 points, while Derrick White set a new season-high from deep, hitting five-of-eight for his crucial 21 points off the bench.

Tatum finished three-of-17 from the field, scoring 12 points, but he was the architect of the Celtics' hot shooting night as he dished a career-high 13 assists, punishing Warriors defensive collapses after his initial dribble penetration.

Jaylen Brown finished with 24 points (10-of-23 shooting) with seven rebounds and five assists, while Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart had 18 points (seven-of-11 shooting, four-of-seven from deep) to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

For the Warriors, Curry finished with 34 points (12-of-25 shooting), five rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Andrew Wiggins had 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting) with three steals and one block.

Game 2 will remain in San Francisco, before they head to Boston for Game 3 and Game 4.

The NBA Finals are here with a mouth-watering matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.

This Warriors team are used to this stage, playing their sixth Finals in eight years, but this is the first trip for the 17-time champion Celtics since 2010.

Ahead of Thursday's highly anticipated Game 1, Stats Perform delves into the best STATS numbers going into an intriguing series...

HISTORY SIDES WITH CELTICS

Only the Los Angeles Lakers (32) have been to more NBA Finals than the Celtics (now 22) and the Warriors (now 12), yet this is only the second time they have met at this stage of the season.

The Celtics beat the Warriors in five in the 1964 Finals, the sixth in a run of eight straight Boston titles.

But that is not their only postseason encounter to date, with the Warriors based in Philadelphia until 1962. They fared no better against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs, however, losing all three series, as the Warriors have never beaten Boston in the postseason.

More recently, the teams split the two-game series this year, but the Celtics have won six of the past seven meetings between the sides by an average of 14.0 points.

THE THREAT FROM THREE

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will have played in half of the Warriors' Finals appearances, although neither of them have yet won a Finals MVP award.

They will certainly be key to any Golden State success this year and head into the series in form, having again displayed their outstanding ability from three-point range.

Curry has made multiple threes in every game in this playoff campaign and in 34 straight postseason games dating back to 2019. It is the longest streak of games with two or more made threes in playoff history.

In fact, with runs of 27 games between 2014 and 2016 and 20 games between 2016 and 2017, the point guard owns three of the four best such sequences.

Thompson's longest run of playoff games with multiple made threes was 14 in 2016, but he passed team-mate Curry in another regard while scoring 32 points in the closeout Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

Thompson knocked down eight shots from deep for his fifth playoff game with eight or more made threes – now the outright most ahead of Curry, Ray Allen and Damian Lillard (four each).

DEFENSE TO BE DECISIVE?

The Celtics have their own scorers, with Jayson Tatum (27.0) on course to average at least 25.0 points in the playoffs for a third straight year.

He would become only the third Celtic to achieve that feat, following in the footsteps of Larry Bird and John Havlicek, who each scored at that rate in four consecutive postseason campaigns.

But what Boston do on the other end of the floor will likely be decisive, as it has been so far in their run to the Finals.

The Celtics beat the Miami Heat 100-96 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals for their 31st win across the regular season and postseason in 2021-22 while holding their opponents to fewer than 100 points. That is the most in the NBA.

If Tatum drives the offense, Al Horford is the key man on defense, and the Celtics have outscored opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. They have been outscored by 2.2 points per 100 possessions with Horford off the court.

In Game 7 against the Heat, Horford had 14 rebounds, two blocks and a team-high plus/minus of 10.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry believes this NBA Finals appearance has a deeper significance than his previous trips, heading into Thursday's series opener against the Boston Celtics.

The Warriors booked their sixth NBA Finals berth in the past eight seasons after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in five games, with Curry also taking out the inaugural Western Conference Finals MVP.

With long-term injuries to Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, as well Kevin Durant's departure for the Brooklyn Nets, the Dubs finished with the NBA's worst record in the 2019-20 season. This campaign has seen them rejuvenate the fluid ball-movement and intelligent basketball on both ends that propelled them to the 2014-15 title, however.

Given the journey back to the top of the NBA landscape, after that Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors without Durant - and in which Thompson sustained his ACL injury - Curry insisted this run feels different to the other five.

Asked what separates this appearance from the other at the NBA Finals media day, Curry said: "The context of the past four years – from Game 6 of the 2019 Finals to now – what we've been through as a team.

"With injuries, obviously the pandemic that's happened over the last two-and-a-half years, everything that we've all been through – with this as the ultimate goal. Getting back on this stage with a chance to play for another championship.

"Then you look up and all the work you've put in over the last two years has paid off. They built on the experience, and the veteran presence we have. All that stuff is built into the context of what's happened since Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, and we're back here, so it's pretty special."

The end of last season was a precursor of sorts as the Warriors went all-in on their distinct brand of basketball, with Kelly Oubre Jr. only playing five of the final 20 regular-season games, where they went 15-5.

After adding Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica and giving more scope to Jordan Poole, the Warriors flew out the gate this season with an 18-2 start, before injuries to Curry and Green halted momentum.

Coming out of the Western Conference again this season, the former unanimous MVP said it spoke to the Warriors' core organisational values and identity.

"I shared similar sentiments with Draymond on options of what could happen last off-season, and what we should, or shouldn't do," Curry said.

"It also speaks to the culture of our organisation, and who we are, and what it takes to win at the highest level. However the young guys can learn that, and however they have learned that, it has been amazing to watch."

Jayson Tatum admitted there were tough times as pundits questioned whether he and star teammate Jaylen Brown could ever win at the highest level, but insisted it only pulled them closer together.

It was a stark fall from grace for the duo after an incredible start to their career when - with Brown drafted in 2016 and Tatum in 2017 - the pair made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in Tatum's rookie season.

They made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020 during the 'bubble' season, but struggled to follow it up on the way to being dominated by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2021 playoffs.

It was a poor start to this season as well, as injuries and adjusting to new coach Ime Udoka had the Celtics in 11th place as late in the season as January 16, but during NBA Finals Media Day Tatum said he never doubted what he could accomplish with his partner-in-crime.

"I honestly believe it's just two young, extremely competitive guys who just really want to win at all costs," he said.

"Obviously, that made us closer in a sense of, we just wanted to figure it out. Not necessarily prove people wrong, but just prove that we can win, and put ourselves in the position to do that.

"And it was tough – at a certain time we were three games under .500, and the 11th seed. I'm sure not many people would have thought we'd have got to this point.

"But there was always a sense of belief between us and the group that we were capable of figuring it out."

He added: "It was very frustrating, head-scratching and all those types of things. It was more so just how can we figure it out, not 'we can't do this' or 'we got to figure something else out'.

"It was tough, there were definitely some tough moments – because I always remember the fun moments.

"My first year, going to the Conference Finals, and the 'bubble' year, going to the Conference Finals – when we were winning all the time.

"At the beginning of this year, every game was like 'I don't know if we're going to win' – it was a lot tougher than it probably should be, and that was something I wasn't used to."

Tatum also addressed feelings of personal doubt as he quickly rose to super-stardom at a young age.

"I'll be honest, there's been times when I've questioned 'am I the right person to lead a group like this?'," he said.

"I never, like, doubted myself, but you know, just moments after some of those losses in the tougher parts of the season, it's human nature to question yourself and things like that.

"But always stick to what you believe in, and trust in the work you put in. It can't rain forever."

Brown shared a similar sentiment about his All-NBA First Team running-mate, saying he always felt like they would figure it out.

"I think that we've been able to win in our career," he said. "Last year, obviously things didn't work out for other reasons, but this year I didn't feel like it was because of the way we played basketball.

"I just think things didn't come together at the right time. Early on in the season I was injured, I missed about 15 games, and the narrative isn't going to say that, they're just going to say 'you guys lost' – it doesn't matter what the excuse is.

"We had a first-year head coach and we were trying to figure it out, and we play in a city that has no patience for any excuses, so we didn't make any, but as things started to come together, we got healthier.

"We made a couple of moves in the front office that were vital for us, and things started to fall in line."

He added: "I've always had unwavering faith, even in the midst of situations that look like things are about to go in a direction that nobody wants to go in, I've always had faith in this group, and this organisation, and myself that we'll be alright.

"In those moments where we lost, I knew we had so much to learn, I knew that I had so much to learn, so if anything it was more encouraging to learn from my mistakes, and get better for the next year. 

"I didn't have any time to question myself, or question what's in front of me, because my belief was so strong."

After making it to the biggest stage, Tatum reflected on what it feels like to be making his dreams come true.

"I just kind of reverted back to being a kid – watching the Finals every year growing up," he said.

"Every kid can imagine themselves being in the NBA, and being in the Finals, but actually living out your dream in real-time is a surreal feeling. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself.

"I walk in and I see this [NBA Finals-themed] backdrop – and it's like 'damn, I am in the Finals' – so I'm just trying to take all this in, and just enjoy the moment.

"It definitely does feel different. There's a lot more media, a lot more obligations.

"So it definitely does feel different – I'm sure basketball is still basketball – but all the things leading up to it are unlike anything else."

Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green took some time during Wednesday's NBA Finals Media Day to reflect on the evolution of their once-mocked franchise since their arrival.

Curry was drafted in 2009, Klay Thompson followed in 2011, before Green was selected in 2012, setting the foundation for one of the league's greatest dynasties.

After announcing themselves on the world stage through gutsy performances against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 playoffs and a seven-game series against the 'Lob City' Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, the Warriors began a five-year streak of making the NBA Finals, winning titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

When asked about his thoughts on the Warriors before he was drafted, Curry admitted he truly believed he was going to be selected by the New York Knicks, and discussed the turmoil that followed his selection.

"What did I think about the organisation? I didn't think much about it," he said.

"I grew up on the east coast, so I mean I watched games, but all I really knew was the 'We Believe' team, and the Baron Davis dunk, and beating Dallas [in 2007].

"When I got drafted I thought I was going to New York, and I didn't really have Golden State on the radar at all.

"Then there was a lot of drama with my rookie year, with a potential Phoenix trade on draft night, [if] me and Monte [Ellis] could play together as a small back-court – 'can we play together?' – and obviously what his answer was at the time."

In a 2009 interview, Ellis replied "we just can't" when asked if he can see himself and Curry playing together, going on to say they "are not going to win that way".

Curry continued: "So there's a lot going on in that sense, but to see the evolution from that year to now, and the fact that six out of the last eight years we've been in the Finals. It's crazy to think about, for sure.

"It speaks to all the different people who have played a part in that – myself, Draymond, Klay, Andre, all the vets who have played significant roles for us, our front office… it's been an amazing run, and we obviously feel like we have a lot left in the tank, that's why we're here."

Green arrived three years after Curry, but he had similar stories, going as far as calling the Warriors "the laughing stock of the NBA".

"I knew [Golden State] won 23 games the year before, and they were the laughing stock of the NBA – but I also knew they had two guys who could really shoot the lights out of the ball," he said.

"Everybody was like man, we were the last-ranked defense in the league, we won 23 games last season, we've been to the playoffs one time in 10 or 11 years – that was kind of the aura that was around.

"We just came in hungry, we wanted to change that, and we did. But it wasn't always this.

"I remember walking downtown Oakland giving away tickets to the game as a rookie – for one of our team activation or community things we had to do – certain guys had to go to the park and give tickets away.

"I remember that, it wasn't that long ago. It was a much less-respected franchise, but we were able to change that, and that's what it's all about."

It wasn't all looking backwards for Green, though, as he also shared his respect for the Boston Celtics and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart.

"You respect and admire that everyone is defending – there is not a guy who comes on the floor that isn't giving 110 per cent on that side of the ball," he said.

"You have to give a lot of respect to [coach] Ime [Udoka] – that's not a much different squad than we've seen… since Kyrie left. It's not a much different team, yet more has been required of them, and they've answered that bell.

"You have to give a lot of credit to them, and you have to give a lot of credit to Marcus Smart, who is their leader on that side of the ball.

"In order to have everyone come in and play [hard], there has to be some leadership there that's holding it all together, and is holding somebody responsible, and to me I think that's Marcus Smart… I appreciate that more than anything."

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