Warriors aware of challenge to close out Celtics, call clinching NBA Finals the ‘hardest game you’ll play’

The Golden State Warriors are one win away from their fourth championship in eight years, but they know their toughest task of the season will be defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

“We know [the Celtics are] I’m going to play with a sense of desperation,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said Wednesday via ESPN.

The required level of effort is not lost on the rest of the warriors. “Clinching is probably the toughest game you will play,” added veteran striker Andre Iguodala.

While the task won’t be easy, the Warriors will benefit from their experience as their core of Steph Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney and coach Steve Kerr all played in five straight finals from 2015-2019. That experience is something the Celtics don’t have; None of their players had previous finals experience.

“You just understand what the nerves are like,” Curry said of the closeout opportunity. “We understand the specifics of how we need to approach the game from a physical standpoint, our game plan adjustments from Game 5 to Game 6, understanding how the building is going to feel, this energy of being prepared.”

As a team, the Warriors are doing their best to enjoy the moment – especially the boys playing in their first finals.

“I’m excited, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Andrew Wiggins said about the size of game 6. “Something I’ve worked hard for, this whole team has worked hard for, so I’m excited.” The message of embracing the moment isn’t limited to the guys who’ve never been to the Finals before though, because those who those who have been there realize what a special opportunity it is – and that a return trip is never promised.

“At the end of the day, when you’re out there, you just have to be in the moment,” Curry said. “You have to be present as much as possible and not worry about the consequences of winning or losing. The only opportunity you have, those 48 minutes is the best advice I can give anyone in this situation as it will probably be the toughest game you have ever played in your career due to the high stakes.

When Curry struggled in Game 5 – hitting an uncharacteristic 0 for 9 from long range – the pieces around him strengthened greatly. Wiggins had his best game of the postseason with 26 points and 13 rebounds, Thompson found his shot and dropped 21 points of his own, and Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II combined for 29 points off the bench. If Golden State receives similar input from these players in Game 6, Warriors fans should get ready to pop the champagne.

“I feel great concentration and confidence”, said coach Steve Kerr Thursday before Game 6. “I think our boys are in good shape tonight.”

At the very least, it seems like Golden State has the right attitude to jump on a sell-off opportunity.

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