NBA play-offs: Warriors defend title and look for a third consecutive run

A year ago the Golden State Warriors were being criticised for being boring and boring them.

That’s because they went 25-13 in the NBA Western Conference semi-finals to travel to Cleveland and play a fifth game.

But when the season finished, the Warriors had gone 49-9 and lifted the NBA Championship in a remarkable seven-game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Golden State are back in this year’s NBA play-offs.

In doing so they have resurrected a pop song by Stephen Curry’s club side Oakland Hornets…

The lyrics ‘There’s no need to be down on yourself, you can pick yourself up. You know that Golden State made it all the way to the Finals…’, are synonymous with their 2015 success, but this year’s return is the essence of another back-to-back appearance.

They lost early on their first defence against the Houston Rockets before romping to the weekend following a 161-105 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kevin Durant, scorer of 50 points in their first game in Houston, has been integral as they aim to once again take on Steph and Klay.

“Of course,” he said when asked if he had kept the Warriors hopes alive of becoming the first to do it twice.

“We all want it. We’ve had that excitement of playing. And we’re not done. We’re in the beginning of it. And we just want to keep it going.

“It definitely makes me feel good. And it’s been a pleasure, but we’ve got a lot of other things to focus on as well.

“We want to focus on what we can control, especially going into the playoffs, so we can win some games and get back where we need to be.

“That’s our main goal as a team.”

Kerr saw his side double their win total compared to last year to clinch the title

As Kerr had a year ago, Warriors are not expecting this season to be easy, with Houston gunning for a place in the NBA Finals.

Curry, who has just a five-day break to rest after their marathon match against the Clippers, is already expecting a much-anticipated battle with the Rockets.

“They’re super confident,” he said. “They’ve got a strong group of guys that can play.

“And we’ll need to do the same thing as we did last year – make sure we control our side of the court and play at a high level defensively, offensively, get some stops, make some plays.

“It’ll be fun. It’s an exciting challenge that we’ll look forward to getting after.”

The Warriors are the favorites in a conference widely perceived to be the deepest in the league, with Houston the established top dogs and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs also in the field.

They faced the Portland Trail Blazers, along with the third place San Antonio Spurs in the play-offs on their way to the championship.

‘We’ve got a lot of room to improve’

Kerr has sent out his squad to work with Pro Netball Australia and know they still have a number of areas where they can improve.

“We’ve come into summer training and been working on some things we need to be improving on,” Curry said.

“But we really feel good about where we’re at and we just have to get back to it and continue to build and keep going.

“We’ve got a lot of room to improve. That’s how we look at the summer. We want to be able to get into a better rhythm of our games and keep pushing each other to be the best we can be.”

Steph Curry won last year’s NBA Finals MVP award

This year the eight-time All-Star was named the NBA Finals MVP after scoring 25 points in the series finale and averaged an NBA finals-high 23.8 points.

Meanwhile the Warriors have retained the services of All-Stars Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala for this season and are rumoured to be in talks to secure Kevin Durant’s signature from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Warriors arrived home to a glowing reception and were also named league Most Valuable Players, the NBA Championship Rings and The Popularity of the Warriors.

But they said that all they want to be remembered for is the quality of the basketball.

“We’re back at it again, but we’re focusing on the first round of the playoffs,” said Kerr.

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