With their season on the brink of a sudden and unexpected collapse, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green summoned the powers they so often displayed during the 73-win campaign to help their team hold off a locked-in and relentless Thunder squad. Curry led the Warriors with 31 points despite a still-creaky jump shot and Green was back to being the defensive ace (4 blocks, 1 steal) that anchored Golden State’s defense all year. That effort, along with Andrew Bogut’s two-way dominance, helped the Warriors stave off elimination and continue their march towards back-to-back championships.

The Warriors didn’t play a perfect game, but nonetheless, get to live and fight another day.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Game 5 win:


1. In a season highlighted by the otherworldly feats of the vaunted Death Lineup, the game-changing adjustment Steve Kerr made was to stay big with a center not named Draymond Green to man the paint. After watching his team get devoured down low for easy scores and offensive rebounds, Kerr kept to a more traditional lineup to match size with size and the Warriors’ big men finally delivered. Andrew Bogut did yeoman’s work defending the rim on OKC’s penetration and added 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 14 rebounds. Bogues was able to play 30 minutes of stout defense (2 blocks, 2 steals) mostly because he was finally able to avoid foul trouble. Mo Speights came in the contest and dropped 14 points in quick succession and Festus Ezeli even made his two free throws when he got hacked. For the first time in this series, it was the Warriors front line that dominated the game. (It certainly helped that Steven Adams was saddled by two early fouls).

2. Stephen Curry made a concerted effort to get to the rim and was finally able to shake free from defenders out on the perimeter. Although he still didn’t shoot great from deep (3-8) Steph was able to muster up a 31-point game by relentlessly taking shots in the lane. Late in the fourth quarter when the Thunder were mounting one last charge, Steph had Steven Adams on an iso at the top of the key and finally showed a burst of speed by getting by Adams and then slithering past Serge Ibaka for an up-and-under scoop shot. Those are the shots that Steph has been taking and making this entire season, but for whatever reason, left him in that disastrous Game 4. Curry missed a few bunnies in the paint, but that he was able to play as well as he did (31 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals) when his patented off-the-dribble 3-pointers has abandoned him, bodes well for the Warriors chances in Game 6.

3. This series might come down to which supporting cast provides the most offensive firepower for their team. In the two games in OKC, Waiters, Ibaka and Roberson were able to get buckets at an efficient clip. In Game 5, it was the Warriors second unit that provided the spark. During the early fourth-quarter stretch when the lead ballooned to double digits, Shaun Livingston hit a few of his patented old man jumpers, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes both connected on a three, and Marresse Speights went full Mo Buckets to the tune of 14 points. Let’s hope the role players make the trip to Oklahoma.

4. The Warriors went back to the defense that got them to 73 regular-season wins and mostly ditched the “Draymond as free safety” scheme. Guys were once again switching on screens and playing their man straight up. As a result, Roberson didn’t have a single backdoor layup and he and Ibaka actually had to see a hand in their face when they pulled up for a shot, something that seldom happened in the previous two contests. The Thunder shot 42.9% as a team, as opposed to 50% in the Game 3 mauling.

5. Some stats Golden State will need to repeat (if not better): The Warriors matched the Thunder in rebounds at 45, shot 10 more free throws, and had 2 fewer turnovers. They also sealed off the paint with 7 blocks.


6. The final two minutes of the game was a microcosm of how the Warriors played in Games 3 and 4. Careless turnovers led to Thunder transition points; they gave up multiple offensive rebounds; and they committed reckless reach-in fouls on jump shooters (KD on a three and Russ on an and-1). Durant had a chance to get the game within one possession, but his 3-pointer clanked juuuuuuuuust short.

7. Watching this 70% healthy version of Stephen Curry play basketball seems like a glimpse into the future when Steph will be in his mid-30s and won’t have that burst to blow by defenders anymore. And learning that Kerr had to send a letter to Oracle fans to urge them to be on time for a playoff game seems like a glimpse into a future where the team will be playing in San Francisco.

8. I can’t help myself; here’s your daily Andreson Varejao watch: Dude came into the game and inexplicably went after an offensive rebound he had no chance at retrieving when he should have been getting back on transition defense. So of course Durant easily glides the other way for an and-1 layup. AV registered a three trillion and the Warriors were outscored by three points in his three minutes.

9. If you’re feeling nervous about the Dubs’ chances of pulling off an upset in OKC, here is my favorite esoteric basketball stat to lift your spirits.

10. The Warriors will be major underdogs heading into Game 6 at an arena where they were just demolished twice in a row. The most likely outcome is another loss to this long, athletic, and experienced OKC squad that’s led by two all-time greats in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That’s what will probably happen. But I keep getting this nagging thought: The Warriors are only one game away from wresting control of the series back in their favor and they have yet to piece together an entire 48-minute game. They have yet to get a great Stephen Curry performance where the MVP drops a hyper-efficient 39 points on only 19 shots. Draymond Green has yet to control both sides of the ball with his fiery brand of basketball while registering a Jason Kidd-like 12-point, 12-rebound, 13-assist game. And Klay Thompson has yet to shoot the lights out in the same contest as his backcourt Splash Brother. So even though the Warriors will be facing their greatest test ever in an elimination game on the road, I can’t help but think they are due for one truly great performance. See you Monday! Clap clap, clap clap clap! #Webelieve.