HOUSTON — The Golden State Warriors are one loss away from elimination, yet they sound as if they are the ones who are a single victory from advancing to the NBA Finals.
“I feel great about where we are right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the Houston Rockets took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win Thursday night. “That may sound crazy, but I feel it. I know exactly what I’m seeing out there, and we defended them beautifully tonight. We got everything we needed. Just too many turnovers, too many reaches, and if we settle down a little bit, we’re going to be in really good shape.”
At his postgame news conference, Stephen Curry, who scored 22 points, was asked to explain how exactly it is that they are in a great position.
“Because I think the way we’ve played the last two games, we’ve played good enough to win and just haven’t gotten the job done,” he said. “So, going home Game 6, the way we played tonight, if we can repeat that, take care of turnovers, just stay mentally locked in on the details for 48 minutes, we know we can get a win. Just with the talent we have on this team and the resiliency and whatnot, you know, we can get the job done.
“I think we’re excited about that opportunity to go home, to get ourselves back in the series, stay alive, obviously, like I said, then worry about a Game 7. We haven’t been in this position before, this team and teams of old, so it’s a chapter we need to figure out and finish the story.”
Golden State has now blown consecutive opportunities to claim its third win of the series. James Harden was held to 5-of-21 shooting from the field and 0-of-11 from beyond the arc, and the visiting team still wasn’t able to capitalize.
“We’ve been here before,” Curry said.
However, with Kevin Durant as a Warrior, this team hasn’t gone through such a trial.
“Well, that’s good,” Curry said. “We need a new challenge. It’s only right that we do it a different way to set a new chapter. This is good for us. It’s something we’ll embrace.”
In the locker room, Curry and Draymond Green were discussing the vibe of the series and agreed that it reminded them of the series with the Memphis Grizzlies from three years ago. They found themselves down 2-1 before winning three straight to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.
Told by ESPN that these Rockets are not the Grizzlies, Green responded assertively: “We’ll be back here for Game 7.”
And when questioned about the team’s inconsistency of late, Green replied: “You’d be a fool not to believe me. If you don’t ever believe anything I say, believe this: We’re a group of champions.”
It was an upbeat, confident atmosphere inside the Warriors’ locker room. If the players were livid about their shortcomings, they didn’t show it.
“I think they’re angry,” Kerr said. “I think they know that we could have won this game, could have won the last game. I think they’re sitting in there and they’re angry, as they should be. They’re competitors.”
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Durant has struggled in the fourth quarter the past two games, combining for only one field goal. The bulk of his offensive touches have come in the post area, and Houston has done a great job of suffocating him in an area of the court that is difficult to survey.
“Yeah, they’re switching a lot when I get in the post now,” Durant said after scoring a game-high 29 points on 8-for-22 shooting. “I can feel them bringing a guy over, so I just got to make the right play. But, yeah, [I need to] probably mix it up a bit and see where I can get different catches and touches because they’re kind of figuring stuff out for us.”
Game 6 is Saturday at Oracle Arena. Despite the Warriors feeling good about their chances moving forward, Kerr acknowledged this is a bit of uncharted territory.
“This is the worst situation we’ve been in since Kevin’s been here, and we’re two wins from making the NBA Finals. So that’s a pretty good worst situation to be in,” Kerr said. “We’re right there. We found some things tonight that worked for us. I’m extremely confident that we’re going to take care of business, and we’ve just got to be a little sharper.”
Said Green: “I’ve got a lot of confidence in us living rather than dying, so we’ll be fine.”