Playing for injured star Kevin Durant in a farewell to the arena when they became a dynasty, the Golden State Warriors are set for an emotional NBA Finals showdown Thursday against Toronto.
The Raptors own a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven championship series despite a 106-105 loss Monday in which Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon in his first game back after missing a month with a right calf injury.
The Warriors, seeking their third consecutive NBA crown and fourth in five seasons, take inspiration from Durant into their final game at Oakland’s Oracle Arena before moving to a new $1 billion home next season in San Francisco.
“To protect our home court, feed off our crowd’s energy, play for K and try to keep our season alive, there are a lot of things that you can tap into for energy,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “We’ll be ready.”
Fellow 3-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson says Golden State’s expects historic support from fans.
“We’re just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle,” Thompson said. “I expect our fans to be the loudest they’ve ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit to the fight and the competitiveness.
“We deserve it, but more importantly Kevin does for what he gave this team, this organization. There wouldn’t be (championship) banners if it wasn’t for his presence. So we expect our crowd to be loud for him.”
Durant, Most Valuable Player of the past two NBA Finals, underwent surgery Wednesday before the Warriors conducted their final arena practice.
“It’s going to be an epic night for sure,” Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins said. “Going to be a lot of emotions and a lot of passion in the building.
“We just got to find a way to grind through it and make something happen. No matter what type of adversity hits this team we find a way to fight through.”