Steve Kerr admitted he was still in awe of Stephen Curry after his starring role in the Golden State Warriors' NBA Finals success.

The Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 to seal an unassailable 4-2 series lead and claim a fourth title in eight years.

Kerr, who also won five championships as a player, has been at the helm for all of those successes, but he has not lost the ability to be impressed by the feats of his star players.

And nobody has played a greater role in this season's triumph than league and Finals MVP Curry.

"He does [still inspire awe], because what he does at his size is so different from the traditional greats in this league," Kerr said of the 34-year-old.

"I've said it so many times, Steph reminds me so much of Tim Duncan. Totally different players. But from a humanity standpoint, talent standpoint, humility, confidence, this wonderful combination that just makes everybody want to win for him.

"And I'm obviously thrilled for everyone in that room, and a lot of people had a big hand in this, but I think the thing with Steph is, you know, without him, none of this happens.

"That's not taking anything away from Joe [Lacob] and Peter's [Gruber] ownership, because they have built an incredible organisation.

"Bob Myers, hell of a GM. Our players, we have had so many great players, but Steph ultimately is why this run has happened. Much like Timmy in San Antonio.

"So I'm happy for everybody, but I'm thrilled for Steph. To me this is his crowning achievement in what's already been an incredible career."

Curry averaged 31.2 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Finals to earn the first Finals MVP of his career.

He put up a team-high 34 points in Game 6 on 12-of-21 shooting, hitting six-of-11 threes while adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

Curry also became the first player to ever win a unanimous league MVP and a unanimous Finals MVP.

Asked what distinguished this title from the rest, Kerr added: "They are all unique, they are all special. I think this one may have been the most unlikely just from the standpoint of where we've been the last couple years.

"A lot of unknowns, the injury to Klay [Thompson], Draymond [Green] at the end of the year, Steph at the end of the year. A lot of young guys, a new core, or a new group around our core, I should say.

"But it's really special to see guys like Wiggs [Andrew Wiggins] and Loon [Kevon Looney] and Gary Payton, just how far they have come, the impact they made, Jordan Poole, the same thing.

"I know I'm going to forget people but it takes a full team effort to do this, and we just had a great group who do get it done."

Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry took the time to sit back and soak in the journey from Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals to Thursday's Game 6, championship-sealing win against the Boston Celtics.

Curry, who averaged 31.2 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Finals to earn the first Finals MVP of his career, scored a team-high 34 points in Game 6 on 12-of-21 shooting, hitting six-of-11 threes and adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

It is the Warriors' fourth championship in the past eight seasons, with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and coach Steve Kerr there for all four.

Speaking to the media while still wearing his goggles from the champagne celebrations in the locker room, Curry pushed back on the first question being about his elusive Finals MVP.

"Forget that, we're champs," he said. "We've got four championships.

"God is great, the ability to be on this stage and play with amazing teammates against a great Boston Celtics team that gave us everything to try to get to the finish line… this one hits different for sure.

"Knowing what the last three years have meant, and what it's been like. From injuries, to a changing of the guard with the roster, 'Wiggs' [Andrew Wiggins] coming through, our young guys. Carrying the belief that we could get back to this stage and win, even if it didn't make sense to anybody when we said it.

"All that stuff matters, and now we've got four championships. Me, Dray, Klay and Andre – and I finally got that bad boy [motioning to Finals MVP trophy] – it's special, man. Special.

"All the work that went into it, all the faith and belief, everybody in that locker room that's getting to spray champagne around the locker room – everybody mattered in that process. I'm proud of everybody."

Curry was superb down the stretch in the close-out win, scoring 13 of the Warriors' 27 fourth-quarter points, and he was overtaken by emotion as the finals seconds ticked down.

Touching on what was going through his head, he said it was thoughts of the long road back to the top after the 2019 Finals ended in devastating fashion, with a loss and serious injuries to Thompson and Kevin Durant.

"These last two months of the playoffs, these last three years, these last 48 hours, every bit of it has been an emotional rollercoaster, on and off the floor," he said.

"You're carrying all of that on a daily basis, trying to realise a dream and a goal like we did tonight – you get goosebumps just thinking about all those snapshots and episodes we went through to get back here.

"That's why I said this championship hits different – that's why I've got so many emotions, and still will – because of what it took to get back here. 

"When we started this season, there was a lot of conversation about who we were as a team, and what we were capable of, and I clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero for how many more championships we'd have going forward.

"We hear all of that, we carry it all, and you try to maintain your purpose and not let it distract you, but you carry that weight, and to get here, it all comes out."

He added: "It was definitely overwhelming – it was surreal – just because you know how much you went through to get back to this stage.

"Me personally, my workouts from the offseason last year when we lost the play-in tournament, it's been a year and six days since I started the process of getting ready for this season – and it all paid off.

"I didn't know how it was going to happen, I didn't know what the environment was going to be like, but it hits different.

"Out there on the floor – I mean, I didn't even know [my dad] was down there – and I saw him, and I just lost it… I just wanted to take in the moment."

Curry also became the first player to ever win a unanimous league MVP and a unanimous Finals MVP, further cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever lace them up.

The Golden State Warriors have won the NBA championship, with a 103-90 victory in Game 6 at the TD Garden on Thursday, sealing a 4-2 series win against the Boston Celtics.

It was the Celtics who started hot in front of their home fans, starting the game on a 14-2 run, but the Warriors fought back to a 22-16 deficit, and from there launched a game-winning 21-0 run. The Warriors used that run to jump ahead 37-22, and the Celtics were never able to trim the lead to below eight points the rest of the way.

Stephen Curry secured his first ever Finals MVP with a team-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, going six-of-10 from long range, while also adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

However, where the Warriors won Game 6 was on the defensive end, forcing 21 turnovers and holding Jayson Tatum to just 13 points on six-of-18 shooting.

Andrew Wiggins was terrific, finishing with four steals and three blocks as he made Tatum's life miserable, and he added 18 points on seven-of-18 shooting. 

It is the Warriors' seventh NBA title in their history, and their fourth in the past eight seasons.

Thursday's win completed an impressive turnaround from 2-1 down in the series to a 4-2 victory after winning the last three contests, including two in Boston.

Head coach Steve Kerr – who won five NBA Finals rings as a player for the Chicago Bulls (three) and San Antonio Spurs (two) – has now won the same number as a coach, all with the Warriors.

 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr highlighted Klay Thompson's gradual improvement in these NBA Finals as critical for his side, heading into a possible close-out game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Thompson has come up with big plays on both ends of the court, particularly on the defensive end down the stretch without Draymond Green, as the Warriors evened up the series on the road in Game 4.

Along with his ability to defensively hassle multiple players in this series, Boston's altered coverage on Stephen Curry allowed Thompson space to hit important shots in Game 5, scoring 21 points on 50 per cent shooting as the Warriors took a 3-2 series lead. On a night where Curry and Andrew Wiggins shot a combined zero-of-15 from long-range, Thompson was crucial, hitting five-of-11 three-pointers.

Speaking to media ahead of Game 6, Kerr believes Thompson has been able to grow into the series on both ends of the floor.

"The last couple of games he's looked great defensively," Kerr said. "I think there's been times earlier in the playoffs where he's looked really good as well, but I do think he's improved as this series has gone on.

"I thought those two shots and then Jordan's [Poole] two threes at the end of the third quarter [of Game 5] were the biggest shots of the game. They had seized momentum and Klay's two at the top of the key were just massive."

In each of the three previous series in the playoffs this season however, the Dubs have failed to close out on the first opportunity, dropping games on the road in Memphis and Dallas, as well as at home to the Denver Nuggets.

Irrespective of Game 5 being the first time the Celtics have dropped consecutive games in these playoffs, the 56-year-old insisted that it is simply difficult to win in those situations, and his side will have to be at their best to claim the NBA title on the road.

"I just think, it's the NBA," Kerr said. "You've got talented teams, you've got talented players you're going against. You're in somebody else's building and it's just not easy to close anybody out in the playoffs.

"There's not a common thread, we're just going to have to play really well to win to close out."

Steve Kerr singled out the drive to improve as fuel for his "superstar" Stephen Curry to lift the Golden State Warriors, ahead of Monday's Game 5 matchup with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Curry was at his transformative best in Game 4 on Friday as the Warriors evened the series up with a 107-97 win, scoring 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting along with 10 rebounds and four assists.

The 34-year-old has averaged 34.3 points in the opening four games of the NBA Finals on astounding shooting splits of 50/49/86 per cent, for a true shooting percentage 66.4 per cent and net rating of +12.

Speaking in the leadup to Game 5, the Warriors head coach cited Curry's valuing of preparation and work to maximise his shooting talent as the reason behind his play at such a high level.

"Just the consistency of his routine," Kerr told reporters. "He's a like a metronome, every day it's the exact same thing. He's in the training room, he's in the weight room, he's on the court and it's clockwork, but there's also a sense of joy and energy within that work.

"He enjoys it so much. He loves the process, and I think that's the thing that ties all great athletes together. Like, I'm talking about the superstar athletes, the Roger Federers of the world and Steph Currys of the world.

"There is a routine that is not only super disciplined but it's really enjoyed each day, there is a passion that comes with it, and that's what sustains it over time. When you love something like those guys do, you work at it, you get better and you just keep going."

Kerr also reserved some praise for Andrew Wiggins, who has provided valuable support in the face of Klay Thompson's shooting slump and patchy form from Draymond Green.

Only making the playoffs once in his career before this season, the 27-year-old has averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, along with a steal and a block over the opening four games.

Traded to the Warriors in 2020, Wiggins has proved a compatible fit on both ends of the floor, with Kerr taking pride in his development.

"He's a very mild-mannered guy, but he's taking a leap in these playoffs, in terms of his impact on the game," the Warriors coach said. "Defensively, on the glass, you saw the other night with 16 rebounds and I think because the games are obviously so meaningful, there's more emotion from him and from everybody.

"The biggest thing is that he's a two-way player, you've got to have two-guys to make it this far and to succeed, and he has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. It's really fun to watch that growth."

Steve Kerr singled out the drive to improve as fuel for his "superstar" Stephen Curry to lift the Golden State Warriors, ahead of Monday's Game 5 matchup with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Curry was at his transformative best in Game 4 on Friday as the Warriors evened the series up with a 107-97 win, scoring 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting along with 10 rebounds and four assists.

The 34-year-old has averaged 34.3 points in the opening four games of the NBA Finals on astounding shooting splits of 50/49/86 per cent, for a true shooting percentage 66.4 per cent and net rating of +12.

Speaking in the leadup to Game 5, the Warriors head coach cited Curry's valuing of preparation and work to maximise his shooting talent as the reason behind his play at such a high level.

"Just the consistency of his routine," Kerr told reporters. "He's a like a metronome, every day it's the exact same thing. He's in the training room, he's in the weight room, he's on the court and it's clockwork, but there's also a sense of joy and energy within that work.

"He enjoys it so much. He loves the process, and I think that's the thing that ties all great athletes together. Like, I'm talking about the superstar athletes, the Roger Federers of the world and Steph Currys of the world.

"There is a routine that is not only super disciplined but it's really enjoyed each day, there is a passion that comes with it, and that's what sustains it over time. When you love something like those guys do, you work at it, you get better and you just keep going."

Kerr also reserved some praise for Andrew Wiggins, who has provided valuable support in the face of Klay Thompson's shooting slump and patchy form from Draymond Green.

Only making the playoffs once in his career before this season, the 27-year-old has averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, along with a steal and a block over the opening four games.

Traded to the Warriors in 2020, Wiggins has proved a compatible fit on both ends of the floor, with Kerr taking pride in his development.

"He's a very mild-mannered guy, but he's taking a leap in these playoffs, in terms of his impact on the game," the Warriors coach said. "Defensively, on the glass, you saw the other night with 16 rebounds and I think because the games are obviously so meaningful, there's more emotion from him and from everybody.

"The biggest thing is that he's a two-way player, you've got to have two-guys to make it this far and to succeed, and he has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. It's really fun to watch that growth."

Draymond Green said Stephen Curry simply "wasn't letting us lose" as the greatest shooter of all time scored 43 points to carry the Golden State Warriors to a 107-97 road win in Game 4.

The win tied the series at 2-2, swinging home-court advantage back to the Warriors as they prepare to head back to Chase Center for Game 5.

Curry's ridiculous performance included going 14-of-26 from the field, and seven-of-14 from long range, while also grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 10 of the Warriors' last 12 points in a tense fourth quarter.

Andrew Wiggins also had a night to remember, pulling in a career-high 16 rebounds to go with his 17 points, finishing with a plus/minus of plus 20 in his 43 minutes, meaning the Warriors were minus 10 in the five minutes he was on the bench.

Speaking to the media after the win, Green let it be known just how special Curry was when his team needed him most.

"Incredible – [Curry] put us on his back, willed us to a win, a much-needed win," he said.

"He came out and showed why he's one of the best players to ever play this game, and why this organisation has been able to ride him to so much success. Just absolutely incredible.

"He's one of the most resilient, toughest guys that I've ever played with. The way defenses guard him, they're constantly grabbing, and he just continues to play… he just continues to do what he does.

"It says a lot about his toughness, and his competitive nature, and what it truly means to be a winner."

When asked if he had a feeling Curry was going to bring it tonight, Green said there was no way they were heading back home trailing 3-1.

"Yeah, [Curry] wasn't letting us lose," he said. "That's just what it boils down to.

"You hear all the noise… I could tell in his demeanour the last couple days, after Game 3, that he would come out with that type of fire, and we were all able to follow."

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr echoed Green's sentiments about Curry's virtuoso performance.

"Just stunning," he said. "The physicality out there is pretty dramatic.

"Boston's got obviously the best defense in the league. They're huge, and powerful at every position.

"For Steph to take that kind of pressure all game long, and then still be able to defend at the other end when they're coming at him, I think this is the strongest physically he's ever been in his career, and it's allowing him to do what he's doing."

He also made sure to give a mention to Wiggins for his game-changing effort.

"'Wiggs' was fantastic – to go against Boston you've got to deal with [Jayson] Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown," he said. 

"They're just powerful, skilled players. Great size, they're coming downhill at you constantly, so we have to have Wiggs out there.

"I thought he was great defensively, and obviously 16 rebounds – a career-high – and [a plus/minus of] plus 20. We needed every bit of his contributions."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and star point guard Stephen Curry have both backed Klay Thompson to respond from his "mini slump".

Thompson produced his worst shooting percentage of the season in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, making four-of-19 from the field as the Warriors won 107-88 over the Boston Celtics.

The five-time NBA All-Star shooting guard managed only 11 points in Sunday's win, including one-of-18 from three-point range.

Thompson scored a decisive 32 points in Game 6 of the Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks but has only scored more than 15 points twice in his past seven games.

"I think he’s just pressing a little bit," Kerr told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Game 3 in Boston.

"He wants so badly to do well. He's taking some bad ones. I’m not particularly concerned about it.

"This isn't the first time it's happened. Klay has a way of responding to mini slumps."

Curry helped pick up the slack in Game 2, hitting five triples on his way to 29 points to level the series.

The two-time MVP also backed the 32-year-old shooting guard to find a way back to his best.

"History has shown that there's no predictor to when he can just take it to another level," Curry said.

"He’s always just found a way, especially in the playoffs, to make an impact that’s loud.

"The best you can probably say is keep shooting, as that’s the only way to get yourself out of some rough patches."

Thompson was buoyed by his Game 6 display against the Mavs, where he landed eight three-pointers at 50 per cent from beyond the arc.

"I’ll probably just YouTube Game 6, because there was some very high pressurised situations I was in and I ended up shooting the ball well," Thompson said about how he would manage his shooting issues.

"When you can do it when your back is against the wall, you know you can do it at any given moment. It's just about keeping mentally strong."

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."

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."

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."

So here we are, after all that basketball in 2021-22, we come down to the final pair as the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics to decide the destination of this year's NBA championship.

It was a relatively smooth route for the Warriors after a 4-1 win against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals, while the Celtics went to Game 7 for the second round in a row, eventually overcoming the Miami Heat.

Having been able to rest up since they sealed their place in the finals on Friday, Steve Kerr's team will be heavily fancied to win their first title since 2018.

Golden State were electric against Dallas, with all four of their wins being by a margin of at least nine, and even managing to overcome the outrageously talented Luka Doncic, winning Games 2 and 3 despite 40 or more points in both coming from the Slovenian.

It is no surprise that Stephen Curry is leading the way for the Warriors, averaging 25.9 points per game in the postseason, as well as 6.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds.

His three-pointer attempts have been a little wayward by his own very high standards, making 60 of 158 attempts in the playoffs, just three more than Klay Thompson (57 from 143 shots), who himself is playing more than just a support role.

Thompson is averaging 19.8 points per game, while Jordan Poole is not far behind with 18.4.

Andrew Wiggins also deserves credit for his contribution, averaging 15.8 and scoring 27 in the Game 3 win against the Mavs at the American Airlines Center, and a good example of how Kerr's team can get at you from anywhere on the court.

 

All that being said, the Celtics have shown themselves to be big-game players during the playoffs, overcoming both the defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks and the number one seeds in the East, the Heat.

Jayson Tatum has invariably been the main man, averaging 27.0 points in the playoffs along with 5.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Like the Warriors, though, Boston are able to spread the responsibility, with Tatum's 26 against the Heat in Game 7 supplemented by 24 each from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

The Celtics are in the finals for the first time since 2010, and it feels like they have shown the backbone needed to go all the way, even against a supremely talented Warriors side.

Ime Udoka could cement his legacy in Boston, admitting after overcoming the Heat they will need to go one better to be remembered, saying: "We don't hang or celebrate Eastern Conference championships in the Celtics organisation, so we all fall in line and appreciate that standard of excellence."

Udoka against Kerr could be the most interesting contest across the NBA Finals, but all over the court there are intriguing narratives and plenty of top-class basketball to witness.

Whoever rises to the top, they will surely be worthy champions.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Golden State Warriors – Draymond Green

The outspoken 32-year-old said on his podcast recently that whatever happens, "the dynasty been stamped" for this Warriors team.

A fourth NBA title in eight years would be quite a convincing way to stamp it further, and Green is likely to play a big role if that is to happen.

In the playoffs, he has been averaging 2.8 turnovers, 8.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game. He racked up nine assists in the clincher against the Mavs, as well as sinking six of seven field goal attempts.

Boston Celtics – Al Horford

After a year each at the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder, Horford came back to Boston to try and finally reach the NBA Finals, and he has done just that.

His ability to stop the opposition and tidy up attacks could well be key against an opposition with danger-men all over the place.

Horford has averaged 8.1 defensive rebounds in the playoffs, including 12 in the Game 7 win against the Heat, and managed three turnovers in three different games during that series.

KEY BATTLE – Will defense win the championship?

Following on from Horford's ability to snatch the ball in defense, these two were both in the top four in the league in the regular season for defensive rebounds, with Golden State second overall with 2,930, while Boston were fourth on 2,915.

One thing the Celtics will need to be aware of is the Warriors' ability to steal, making the fourth most in the league in the regular season (719), while the Celtics were only in 19th place (591).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Celtics will be especially confident based on recent match-ups, having won six of their past seven meetings with the Warriors, including a 110-88 win at Chase Center in their most-recent contest in March.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr lauded an "incredible" Stephen Curry after his side progressed to a sixth NBA Finals appearance since 2015 on Thursday.

Curry claimed the first Western Conference Finals MVP award as the Dubs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5, claiming a 4-1 series win.

The former unanimous MVP suffered an early injury scare, tweaking his right ankle in an attempt to trap Dorian Finney-Smith in the first quarter. After sitting out the early exchanges of the second quarter, Curry finished with 15 points on a relatively poor five-of-17 shooting for his standards, along with nine assists and two steals.

According to Kerr however, the 34-year-old's stamina and mere presence gets the Warriors going, while his effort on the defensive side of the ball deserves respect.

"He's our engine, offensively. Everything revolves around him," Kerr said after the win. "We've got a lot fo great players around him and guys who fit well together but it all starts with Steph.

"He just creates so much havoc for the defence that even on a night like tonight where he doesn't shoot the ball that well, he forces rotations and he frees up other players. His defence all year has been totally underrated.

"He's as strong as he's ever been. Conditioning-wise, just to play 35 minutes tonight, fighting over screen after screen after screen and then at the other end, be on the ball and get people open. Steph's incredible."

The Warriors moved to a 21-2 playoff series record under Kerr's tenure with the win over the Mavericks, after missing the playoffs in the previous two seasons.

After seeing through the long-term injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson over that two-year hiatus, Kerr believes his team started to find rhythm at the end of last term, ending with a 15-5 record over the final 20 games of the regular season.

"These last couple of years have been difficult with the injuries – worst record in the league two years ago," Kerr said post-game. "Last year it felt like we spent the year trying to get back on track and I think we did at the end of the season.

"It's pretty amazing. It's so difficult to get to the finals. An NBA season is such a marathon, to get through the 82 [regular-season games], then three rounds of the playoffs, beating the best teams in the league to get there, frankly, it's exhausting.

"For our team, our guys, especially the core group…to be part of that six times in eight years, I don't even know what to say. It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work and I couldn't be prouder of our guys."

Stephen Curry applauded Steve Kerr for his frank pre-game comments following a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.

At a scheduled news conference before the Golden State Warriors' 119-109 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, an emotional Kerr called into question a lack of action from United States senators on the sale, presence and usage of firearms.

A moment of silence was then observed inside the American Airlines Center ahead of the tip-off, but Kerr had said: "I am sorry, I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough!"

Following the defeat, Curry explained basketball had been put in perspective as he stood in support of his coach, whose father was murdered in the university where he worked in Beirut in 1984.

"I appreciate his leadership," Curry said post-game. "It was on everybody's mind coming into the game. It's kind of hard to stay focused on going out and playing basketball, knowing what happened in this state.

"I got kids, send them to school every day, drop them off, and you feel for the parents that are going through what they're going through.

"I can't even imagine the pain, so for coach to come up here and say what he said – and every word that he said was powerful and meaningful – I accept that challenge of using my voice and platform to hopefully make change. You can tell what it meant to him. I appreciate his leadership on that one.

"You come in, and the perspective is, 'this is what we do', so you know how to kind of use your routine to get you ready. Obviously your mind wanders from time to time but especially in the moment of silence before the game."

The Warriors started slowly and were down by as much as 29 points at one stage, before the second unit got the game back to within single-digits with less than five minutes remaining.

While praising the Mavericks on their victory, Kerr conceded it was hard to get his team ready pre-game.

"It was sort of an unspoken awareness of what happened today, and it was a very quiet locker room beforehand," he said.

"I felt like as a coach, my job is to get the team ready to play. It was difficult to sort of keep perspective on a day like today, but that's the shock and the grief, the anger that's there for all of our guys, and I'm sure everybody in the building."  

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was in no mood to talk about the playoffs on Tuesday and instead delivered a desperate plea against gun violence following the latest mass shooting in the United States.

Kerr was attending his usual pre-game news conference prior to Game 4 of the Conference Finals between the Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks and started by declaring he would not discuss basketball.

The Warriors head coach, whose father was shot dead in a terrorist attack in Beirut in 1984, instead spoke about the shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday where at least 19 students and two adults were killed.

Kerr, who was visibly emotional, directed his anger at senators for refusing to pass legislation requiring background checks on people before their purchase of firearms.

"Any basketball questions don’t matter. Since we left shootaround, 14 children were killed, 400 miles from here and a teacher," Kerr told reporters, before banging his hands on the table and yelling: "When are we going to do something?

"I'm tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough!

"There's 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on H.R.8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple of years ago that's been sitting there for two years. There's a reason they won't vote on it, to hold on to power.

"I ask you [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell, all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, the school shootings and the supermarket shootings, I ask you are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of children and our elderly and our church-goers. That's what it looks like."

Kerr called for fans to deeply consider the victims and not desensitise themselves to another mass shooting, with the game still to be played.

"We can't get numb to this," Kerr said.

"We can't sit here and just read about it and go 'well let's have a moment of silence, go Dubs'. 'C'mon Mavs, let's go'."

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