Stephen Curry Credit: Bill Moore photo

Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight in San Francisco begins the conclusion of the league’s 75th season. The Golden State Warriors of the Western Conference and the Boston Celtics of the Eastern Conference will collide in a best-of-seven series that features some of the sport’s brightest stars. Names such as the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum ring loudly among followers of the NBA.

The Warriors reached this stage by defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals and will be making their sixth appearance in the NBA Finals in the last eight seasons. Golden State’s gentleman’s sweep of the Mavs was the third leg of the playoffs after their victories over the Denver Nuggets in five games and the Memphis Grizzlies in six.

During the regular season, the Warriors and Celtics squared off twice. The first game was Dec. 12 in Boston, a narrow 111-107 Warriors’ win. The rematch was at Golden State on March 16, a 110-88 Celtics’ blow out. Curry sustained a sprained ligament in his left foot in the March meeting and was sidelined for the last 12 games of the regular season.

The Warriors entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the West and have looked like the best team in basketball. They are positioned to extend what has become a dynasty under their head coach Steve Kerr, who has been leading them since May of 2014. They won titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and lost in the Finals in 2016 and 2019.

But Curry, the consensus best shooter to ever play the game, has been the driving force of the Warriors’ success. He topped the team in scoring in four of the five games against the Mavericks and will be relied upon to disrupt the Celtics’ smothering defense. He has a great deal of help, including longtime running mate Klay Thompson.

Thompson closed out Game 5 of the West finals with a 32-point game performance, netting 19 in the first half. It was an emotional night for Thompson, who fought back from a torn ACL in his left knee on June 13, 2019, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and an Achilles tendon injury which happened in a pickup game in the fall of 2020. He did not return to play an NBA game until Jan. 9 of this year, missing over two and a half years.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said Thompson after the Warriors eliminated the Mavericks. “This time last year, I was just starting to jog again, and get up and down the court. Now, to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”

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