• 72°

A break: Warriors earn another long rest before NBA finals

By Tim Reynolds

AP Basketball Writer

And now, they wait.

Again.

The Golden State Warriors have gotten used to going to the NBA Finals, and their win in Portland on Monday night clinched their fifth consecutive trip. They’ve also gotten used to waiting for those finals to begin, with long layoffs after the Western Conference finals having become their norm.

By the time Game 1 of the NBA Finals arrives in either Milwaukee or Toronto on May 30, it’ll be a 10-day gap between games for the Warriors. It’s not the longest in NBA history, but it matches the length of the break that the Warriors handled in 2017, and this marks the third time in this five-year run of finals trips that they’ve had at least a week off.

“Happy to get a little rest before we have to play again,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

It is much-needed rest, too.

The Warriors clinched the series in Portland without Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala — all sidelined by injuries. There’s no way of knowing yet if Durant and Cousins will be back in time for the finals, either. Plenty of other Warriors are dealing with bumps and bruises as well.

Accruing rust is always a major concern during days without games, but the Warriors surely feel the obvious advantage — rest — outweighs any drawbacks right now — especially after they were stretched to seven games by Houston last year in the West finals and only had two days off before the NBA Finals.

“We definitely want to get our guys healthy,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We need to get Andre back healthy, DeMarcus and Kevin. We need those guys going into the finals. That’s our hope, that we can get all three of those guys back moving forward.”

Down by 17 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter at Portland, the easiest thing for the Warriors would have been to let off the gas and try to clinch the series at Oracle Arena on Wednesday night.

Instead, they turned a 95-78 deficit into a 119-117 overtime win — outscoring the Blazers 41-22 in the final 19 minutes of the game.

“We could have said Game 5 was our game,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said. “But we saw how long that break was going to be and we wanted to take advantage of it.”

It’s a long break, for certain. But it’s not a record-setting one.

The longest gap between the conference finals and NBA Finals came in 1982, when the Los Angeles Lakers sat around for 12 days before beginning their series against Philadelphia.

“The players are bored and just want to play,” then-Lakers coach Pat Riley said on the eve of that series. “It’s been so long since we played, I just hope we remember how.”

They did remember: The Lakers won Game 1, and ultimately prevailed in six games.

The Warriors’ layoff this season marks the 26th time that a team will have at least a week before the end of the conference finals and the start of the NBA Finals — and if Milwaukee wins the next two games of the East title matchup, the Bucks would get added to the list as well. The earliest that the Bucks could oust Toronto and win the East is Thursday; the finals start the following Thursday.

Teams with at least a one-week gap before Game 1 of the NBA Finals are 14-11 in the series.

“The NBA Finals have an experience with it — it’s such an emotional roller-coaster,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “It’s nice to get away from the game a little bit before it starts, because emotions run high and it takes a lot out of you.”

The long break certainly beats the alternative — no days off at all.

In 1960 and 1961, the St. Louis Hawks earned their trip to the NBA Finals with home wins in Game 7 of what was then called the Western Division finals. The Hawks would play the Boston Celtics in both of those title series — and got zero days rest before the finals. They’d win Game 7 at home, get on a plane and get to Boston to start the NBA Finals the very next day.

Both times, they got blown out in Game 1.

Both times, they would lose the series as well.

“Tiredness was St. Louis’ ‘out’ in this one,” Celtics coach Red Auerbach said after the Game 1 win in 1961.

For the Warriors, at least that won’t be an issue this year.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Comments

Coronavirus

Nearly 400 cases considered currently active in the county

Education

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College creates free course to help parents tackle virtual learning

Business

New unemployment claims down in August, could indicate positive trend for businesses

Crime

Salisbury man faces drug possession charges after overdose call

Crime

Police: Man charged after children call 911 from neighbor’s house

Ask Us

Ask Us: Who are people behind sign at City Park playground?

Coronavirus

Prison in Salisbury latest site of COVID-19 outbreak

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury Man charged with felony assault by strangulation

Nation/World

Trump vows quick Supreme Court vote, Biden urges delay for Nov. 3

Nation/World

New rule may strip pollution protections from popular lakes

East Spencer

East Spencer draws crowd for annual community day

Elections

In Rowan’s legislative races, Howard, Warren get off to strongest start in fundraising

Business

From Navy SEAL to Medicare agent, Trent Waller looks to continue serving his community

Elections

In 13th Congressional District race, Budd, Huffman differ on government’s role in COVID-19 help

Local

Rowan County Telecommunications joins new state digital 911 system

Education

School board will consider scheduling public hearings for Faith, Enochville closures

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion makes donation to support racial equality and justice

Elections

Republicans rally supporters at Saturday lunch

Elections

Budd holds wide lead over Huffman in fundraising, cash on hand

Crime

UPDATED: 1 shot, 5 in custody after shooting at haunted house that attracted 1,000 visitors

Nation/World

Trump picks conservative Amy Coney Barrett to fill Supreme Court seat

Coronavirus

Deadly September propels Rowan County to 100 deaths from COVID-19

Crime

Highway Patrol charges man in hit-and-run after finding vehicle hidden in woods

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes