The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors held media availability on Wednesday (June 12), a day ahead of Game 6 of the NBA Finals – the final game they will play at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
Golden State won Game 5 Monday 106-105 in Toronto, but still trail the best-of-seven series 3-2.
Kevin Durant said on social media he underwent surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon, two days after getting hurt during his return after being sidelined for a month with a right calf strain.
Durant wrote on Instagram: “I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY.”
It was the Warriors’ ninth-straight victory as they cemented their position on top of the Pacific Division.
Kevin Durant, also in the All-Star side, added 21 while Trevor Ariza led the Wizards with 27 points.
Russell Westbrook had a triple-double – 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists – as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 122-116.
Devin Booker scored 27 points but it was not enough as the Phoenix Suns went down 120-106 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Suns were looking for their first win in six, but Portland dominated in the second half to pull away to sit three games behind division leaders the Denver Nuggets.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves outscored the Los Angeles Lakers 36-23 in the final quarter in their 120-105 win.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will spar off as captains for the NBA’s All-Star game in February.
The starters for the clash between the Western and Eastern conferences was made on Thursday, with James selected for the 15th-straight season.
Joining the former Cleveland Cavalier, now a Los Angeles Laker, will be Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry (both Golden State Warriors) and James Harden (Houston Rockets).
They will face the Eastern team comprising Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets), Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks).
Selections were made using a mixture of public voting as well as polls of the media and players themselves and the full rosters will be unveiled after a draft on February 7.
The game at the Spectrum Centre, Charlotte, will be Durant’s 10th consecutive appearance at an All-Star game, while Harden will play his seventh and Curry his sixth game.
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There’s a different vibe around the Golden State Warriors this season than in the past two.
The two-time defending champions remain as dominant as ever, but they’re playing with the sort of looseness and fun-loving attitude that made them not just entertaining, but likable before their heel turn when Kevin Durant joined an already-established juggernaut in the summer of 2016.
Expectations are still sky-high as well, but the Warriors don’t look like a team burdened with any pressure, rather one that is completely comfortable in its own skin.
That wasn’t the case the previous two years when Golden State felt the need to lean in to their villainy as they adjusted to life with Durant and slogged through the schedule before their real season started in the playoffs. The results were still there – 125 regular-season wins and two championships – but some of the joy that was in abundance in 2014-15 and 2015-16 appeared to be missing.
That hasn’t been the case at all in the early part of this season.
The Warriors have only gotten through eight games, but they’ve shown almost no signs of mental or physical fatigue from coming off another long title run.
Not only are they winning (7-1), they’re doing it in style.
On Tuesday, Klay Thompson put on a show to break teammate Stephen Curry’s NBA record for most 3-pointers in a game, splashing 14 en route to 52 points in Golden State’s 149-124 demolition of the Chicago Bulls.
The Warriors shooting guard didn’t even see the floor in the fourth quarter with the result in hand as he did all of his damage in just 27 minutes of action.
It was reminiscent of the night Thompson poured in 60 points in 29 minutes on the Indiana Pacers back in December 2016.
No other player in NBA history has ever scored 50-plus points in 30 minutes or fewer. Thompson has done it twice now.
His explosion was just a continuation of the fun Golden State have been having of late, coming on the heels of Curry and Kevin Durant having their own moment in the spotlight.
It was Curry who kicked things off by draining 11 3-pointers for 51 points in three quarters against the Washington Wizards on October 25.
Durant then followed that up by scoring 41 points against the New York Knicks, including 25 in the fourth quarter, in the very next game.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Golden State are the 50th team in NBA history to have three different 40-point scorers in a season, but they’ve done it quicker than anyone (eight games) and two of those performances featured 50-point efforts that came in just three quarters of play.
It speaks to how awe-inspiring and captivating the Warriors can be when even one of their stars is clicking on a given night.
“It feels like year five of coaching the Golden State Warriors,” Kerr said. “Seriously. This is what it’s been like. I can’t even tell you how lucky I am and how I feel every night just watching these guys and how unselfish they are. They basically take turns, they encourage each other, they want each other to do well, and we have all this talent, but the key is these guys are committed to each other, they play hard for each other, and they want each other to have success, and that’s why it works, and it’s been amazing to be along for the ride.”
That identity has never gotten away from Golden State, but it has wavered for brief moments. Right now though, it’s as strong as ever.