Klay Thompson scored a game-high 32 points and the Golden State Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons by defeating Dallas 120-110 on Thursday.
The Warriors, chasing a fourth title in eight campaigns, won the best-of-seven Western Conference finals 4-1 and secured a place in June’s title showdown against either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat.
The Celtics carry a 3-2 series lead into Friday’s sixth game of the Eastern Conference finals at Boston.
Golden State won NBA crowns in 2015, 2017 and 2018 by defeating the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers each time but lost the finals in 2016 to the Cavs and in 2019 to Toronto.
“This is a blessing for us to get back here, to get back where we belong,” said Golden State guard Stephen Curry, who was named the Western Conference playoff Most Valuable Player.
Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Warriors while Draymond Green added 17 points and nine assists, Jordan Poole scored 16 points off the bench, Curry added 15 and nine assists, and Kevon Looney added 10 points and 18 rebounds.
The Warriors have not lost a playoff game at home this season, the first post-season run in their new arena in San Francisco after leaving behind their old home in Oakland.
“It’s special to do it in our new building,” Curry said. “This isn’t the ultimate goal but we’ve got to celebrate this for all we went through the past three years.”
After missing the playoffs the past two seasons while rebuilding, the Warriors are playing for the trophy again with champion core stars Curry, Thompson and Green back setting the pace.
“This one is special because this is a group no one thought would ever be back here,” Green said.
“This group put the work in every day and we’re here. We’re back.”
It will be the sixth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals for Thompson, who missed the entire 2019-20 campaign after left knee surgery and the entire 2020-21 season with a torn Achilles tendon.
“I’m so happy to be back,” Thompson said. “I’m thankful for this team. I can’t believe we’re back. We’ve still got four more to go.”
Thompson made 12-of-25 shots from the floor, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks haven’t reached the NBA Finals since winning the crown in 2011.
Slovenian star guard Luka Doncic had 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Mavericks while Spencer Dinwiddie added 26 points off the Dallas bench.
– ‘Didn’t play our best’ –
“We didn’t play our best game but we accomplished a lot,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, whose team upset top seed Phoenix in the second round.
“We’ve laid a foundation. Now we can start building.”
Dinwiddie’s corner 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted Dallas within 28-23 after the first quarter.
But Thompson scored eight points in a 12-5 Warriors’ run, starting and ending the spurt with 3-pointers to put Golden State ahead 45-32 with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Reserve Moses Moody scored seven points in a 9-0 Golden State run to stretch the lead to 56-38 with 4:00 to play in the period on the way to the Warriors taking a 69-52 edge at half-time.
Thompson scored 19 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor with 5-of-8 made from 3-point range while Dinwiddie led Dallas with 17.
Early in the third quarter, Green delivered a spectacular no-look, behind-the-back bounce pass to Thompson for a wide-open 3-pointer that gave Golden State a 74-53 lead.
But the Mavericks stung the Warriors with a 15-0 run to the final seconds of the third quarter, pulling within 92-84 as Golden State went scoreless for almost four minutes until managing the final basket of the period.
Doncic scored 15 points in the third quarter to lift Dallas back into the contest, but Golden State opened the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run for a 101-85 advantage and held the Mavs at bay from there.