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    • #5781
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      Steph Curry scored 36 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 96-88 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and into the NBA Finals.

      The Warriors were down by 13 points during the first half but fought back in the third quarter.

      The 4-3 win meant Golden State became only the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a play-off series.

      The defending champions will now face a title rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers and star player LeBron James.

      “We survived by the skin of our teeth,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr. “We were able to pull it out, and we're moving on.”

      Warriors host the Cavaliers in the first game of the best-of-seven finals on Thursday, hoping to repeat their 4-2 success in the 2015 finals.

      The series outcome evoked the glass-half-full expression: were the Warriors are the only team good enough to pull off such a comeback – or were the Thunder the only team combustable enough to lose from such a winning position?

      It might be that it was a little bit of both.

      The history was not in the Thunder’s favor. Top-seeded teams were 28-3 in home Game 7s, according to ESPN. There have been 36 teams to lose Game 6 at home with a 3-2 series lead. Of those, less than half came back to win Game 7.

      But more than that, Russell Westbrook was off his game, shooting for 7-for-21 from the floor on Monday night. Kevin Durant shot 10-for-19 for a total of 27 points, his lowest-scoring Game 7 performance ever.

      “We laid it all out there,” a somber Durant said. “Everybody left their soul out on the court. We have no regrets.”

      Warriors coach Steve Kerr said beforehand he was going to make “11 alterations to the gameplan”, one of which was starting Andre Iguodala after a strong showing in Game 6 instead of Harrison Barnes. Iguodala added seven points and was aggressive on defense.

      Saturday’s Game 6 appeared to be the beginning of the end for the Thunder’s charmed postseason as Oklahoma City blew yet another lead in the fourth quarter. The Thunder were notorious for squandering leads in the final minutes of regular-season games. At one point their number of fourth-quarter collapses were worse than the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the worst teams in the league this year.

      There is also plenty of speculation about the future of Durant, who will soon be a free agent. A player of his talents could easily make over $100m on a new contract. But Durant, understandably, did not want to discuss such matters on Monday night.

      “I mean, we just lost like 30 minutes ago, so I haven’t even thought about it,” Durant said. “I’m just embracing my team-mates and just reflecting on the season. I’ll think about that stuff, I don’t know when. But we just lost an hour ago, 30 minutes ago, so I don’t know.”

      Bay Area natives Andy Samberg and E-40 were seen in the Oracle Arena crowd, as was Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who arrived at half-time after campaigning in northern California.

      Now the Cleveland Cavaliers will head to California for a much anticipated rematch of last year’s NBA finals, which the Warriors won in six games.

      Game 1 is Thursday in Oakland.

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