Warriors, whole again, savor return to NBA Finals

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019 and for the sixth time in the last eight years.

The Warriors punched their ticket with their 120-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 on the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday night.

Klay Thompson played his best game of the series, finishing with a game-high 32 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including eight 3-pointers.

Golden State took control of the game early, building an 18-point lead in the second quarter — the largest first-half lead for the Warriors and the largest first-half deficit for the Mavericks this postseason.

Dallas made a run in the third, outscoring the Warriors 15-2 in the final 3:51 of the quarter, cutting the Mavericks’ 25-point deficit down to seven.

But the start of the fourth quarter brought the Warriors their own small run to rebuild a comfortable lead, and they were able to keep the Mavericks at arm’s length for the remainder of the game.

All five of the Warriors’ starters finished in double digits. In addition to Thompson’s best offensive performance of the series, Draymond Green had his best scoring game of the playoffs, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and nine assists. Andrew Wiggins added 18 points, while Kevon Looney had 10 and Stephen Curry scored 15.

Thursday’s Game 5 was also a showcase of the Warriors’ depth, which was much-needed with Otto Porter Jr. sidelined with left foot soreness. Nemanja Bjelica checked in first in place of Porter, and instantly provided strong defense, posting a plus-14 net rating in his first 11-minute spurt.

Moses Moody, who’s been tapped to fill Gary Payton II‘s minutes, gave the Warriors an offensive boost, scoring seven points in his nine minutes.

Overall, though, the Warriors’ offense wasn’t at its best, and their defense greatly fueled their win, especially when it came to containing Luka Doncic.

The Warriors held Doncic to just six points in the first half — the fewest points in any first half all season for Doncic, including regular season and playoffs. All 12 of Doncic’s first-half shot attempts were contested. He finished with 28.

Golden State will face either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat in the Finals.

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