Celebrating A Conference Championship

One morning after, the reality is still setting in. The Warriors are headed to their third-straight NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. For many of the Warriors, this will be their very first chance getting a crack at the league’s ultimate prize. For others, some unfinished business remains.

Golden State entered the 2016-17 season with nearly half a roster that was in its first year with the organization. Veteran free agents like Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee, as well as rookies Patrick McCaw and Damian Jones, partnered up with the core contingent of Golden State’s back-to-back Finals runs, with the hopes that this time around, it would end on a high note.

Not-so-slowly, but surely, the final hurdle to that high note is rapidly approaching – now just one step away. The Dubs defeated the Spurs 129-115 in Game 4 Monday night to complete their third consecutive series sweep of the playoffs, becoming the first team in NBA history with 12-straight wins to begin a postseason. After the final buzzer sounded, the entire team gathered around the trophy given to the Western Conference Champions, donning matching 2017 NBA Finals shirts and hats.

The celebration was both joyous and measured. “You take it for granted,” said Shaun Livingston. “But nights like these, you just try to be grateful, living in the moment. Obviously our work, we don’t feel is finished, but at the same time it’s a hell of an accomplishment.” Golden State now has nine days off before Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena on June 1st. Here are some other notable reactions from the postgame locker room:

Mike Brown: (On reaching the Finals…)

“I don’t care who you’re playing to make it to the NBA Finals to win your Conference Finals. It’s a big task. It’s a huge accomplishment, and I tip my hat off to all of our players, our coaching staff was phenomenal. Management and ownership, and all our fans back in the Bay Area.”

Kevin Durant: (On appreciating the moment…)

“Yeah, man, I’m just proud of the work we’ve put in from the beginning of the season. We just kept grinding. We didn’t talk about championships or anything. We just wanted to build good habits and have fun playing some basketball, man. Simple as that. It’s good that we’re here now. Obviously we want to take that to the next series and try to be great and see what happens…But like Steph said, 12-0 really doesn’t matter going into the next series. We know it’s going to be a battle.”

Stephen Curry: (On how this feeling compares to the last two years…)

“Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate this opportunity. Playing in this league, you can’t take anything for granted. 30 teams suit up every year trying to get to this point, and only two teams do. So you have to appreciate it. We might not be jumping up and down and screaming at the top of our lungs and doing all that nonsense. But we need to understand the privilege that we have and the opportunity that we have to play in The Finals again, to have the opportunity to win a championship. We appreciate that because, like K.D. said, from the beginning of the season, it’s all about the work that you put in, the mentality that you have, and how you deal with the ups and downs of the season, how you deal with the grind of the Playoffs, and you have to appreciate the position that you’re in because it’s never, ever guaranteed. That’s something that we’ve learned, and I think we can appreciate it without having a bunch of hoopla going on.”

Shaun Livingston: (On Kevin Durant’s reaction postgame…)

“Joyous. Again, I feel joy for him. Everything that he has to go through, and his decision-making process throughout the season. All of the scrutiny. Just for him to celebrate with us. It’s a brotherhood. I’m so happy for him. I’m so happy for guys like Pat [McCaw] and David West – first Finals. A lot of years in this league, and just to get here now, you’re happy for these guys. We can’t take this for granted; we’re going to enjoy this moment.”

Andre Iguodala: (On Patrick McCaw…)

“My man did an incredible job of being ready. You don’t see that from rookies. You know, I understood some of his frustrations early in his career when he was like the next Andre Iguodala. But he’s the next Patrick McCaw. He’s got game…knocking down open shots, but he also knows how to make the right plays. Really proud of him. I don’t think he really knows that, but this is a special kid right here, and he’s going to be in the league for a long time.”

Patrick McCaw: (On his feelings about the experience…)

“I can’t really speak for myself. The hat on the top of my head can though. It’s a surreal feeling right now to even be a part of this team, to be going to the Finals. A lot of people doubted me to even be this far, so I’m just going to keep it going.”

Klay Thompson: (On the veterans who are heading to the Finals for the first time…)

“A lot of them don’t show that much emotion, but they’re excited. They’re embracing this opportunity. It’s hard to do – not a lot of players get to experience this. So, we don’t take it for granted, and we did it for those guys as well as us and the rest of Dub Nation. But, those guys definitely deserve it because they put in so much work…10-plus years deep in the league and they’re still so hungry.”

Matt Barnes: (On reaching the Finals in his return to Golden State…)

“It’s a dream come true. To be able to come back to really, kind of where I got started at, and to have an opportunity to do it with these guys, it’s been a blessing…I’m just at a loss for words. Obviously this is an amazing accomplishment, but I’ve been fighting my whole career for that next round, you know what I mean. So, kind of holding the excitement back right now, and we’ll see what happens next round.”

Draymond Green: (On where the team has improved the most in the playoffs…)

“I think our defensive intensity has been amazing. I think we can still improve on the attention to detail on that side of the ball. That can help lead us to a championship, and it will be important in order to try to win a championship. Overall, I think we’ve done a great job locking in on the defensive side, scrambling around, trying to take away teams’ number one option. That doesn’t necessarily mean the player. Just trying to make them go to a second or third option in the set and also trying to cover that. I think we’ve been doing a great job of that.”

Ian Clark: (On being on a team with unselfish players…)

“I felt that day one when I came here last year. We all pull for each other, we all care and hold each other accountable. I can say that I know Draymond to get on guys, but it’s good for us and we need that. It’s not to get on you or belittle you, but it’s to make sure you know that you need to stay sharp. At times we are going to need that; especially times like this going throughout the playoffs and to the Finals. You are going to need that edge.”

James Michael McAdoo (On what was going through his head…)

“We’re just excited, you know what I mean? This was a crazy series, it’s been a crazy playoffs. Obviously, we haven’t lost, so we’re really just trying to stay locked in. We haven’t played our best yet, so that’s what we’re really just going to try to focus on before we start this next series.”

JaVale McGee (On his mindset…)

“Oh man, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. But we have to be ready for this next round. We can’t celebrate too long…We haven’t played our best basketball yet. And the way we’re playing right now, we definitely have to keep it up, and be even better.”

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