The Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 on Thursday to seal their return to the NBA Finals.
After missing out the past two years, the Warriors clinched a 4-1 win in the Western Conference finals as Klay Thompson scored a game-high 32 points.
They are the first team to reach the Finals six times in eight years since the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.
“This one is special because no-one thought this group would be back here,” said the Warriors’ Draymond Green.
“After being counted out, [people saying] ‘dynasty is over’, to get back is fantastic.”
Golden State will face either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat from 2 June, with Boston having the chance to clinch the Eastern Conference finals at home on Friday.
The Warriors won the NBA title in 2015, 2017 and 2018, beating the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers each time, but lost the 2016 and 2019 finals and missed out on the play-offs while rebuilding their roster in the past two seasons.
The Michael Jordan-led Bulls won six NBA titles from 1991-1998, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr played in the last three of those wins.
“To be in the finals six times in eight years, it just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work,” he said.
“To get back again is special for all of us. It’s so difficult to get to the finals. It’s exhausting, stressful, emotional.”
‘It’ll be much sweeter if we complete the mission’
The Warriors have not lost a home play-off game this season, their first post-season run at San Francisco’s Chase Centre, which opened in 2019.
Luka Doncic scored 28 points for Dallas, who used a 15-0 run late in the third quarter to give themselves a chance after falling 25 points down.
But Golden State closed the third period with a 94-84 lead before starting the last with consecutive scores from Andrew Wiggins and Green.
Wiggins finished with 18 points and Green 17 while Stephen Curry, named the most valuable player for the Western Conference play-offs, added 15 and nine assists.
“This is a blessing for us to get back here, to get back where we belong,” said 34-year-old Curry, who is a two-time NBA MVP.
“It’s special to do it in our new building. This isn’t the ultimate goal but we’ve got to celebrate this for all we went through the past three years.”
Three-time winner Thompson, who missed 2019-20 after knee surgery and 2020-21 with a torn Achilles tendon, said: “I dreamt about this every day. I’m elated, but I’m still hungry. It’ll be much sweeter if we complete the mission next round.”
Tyson Fury warns Anthony Joshua, gives him 48 hours to sign contract
WBC champion, Tyson Fury, has told Anthony Joshua to sign the contract for their all-British heavyweight battle by Monday or the fight is off.
Fury is running out of patience as he waits for a response from Joshua’s representatives.
“We’ll know by Monday anyway (if the super-fight is on) because if it’s not done by Monday I’m moving on,” Fury told Queensberry.
Joshua’s camp has received a contract and talks between the rival promoters are believed to have gone well so far.
But time is of the essence if a major fight is to take place by early December.
“I was optimistic about three weeks ago but it shouldn’t be taking this long to sign a contract.
“I’m not waiting around for some guy who’s lost three of his last five fights. He’s lucky that I’m giving him a world title shot. If not he’ll have to wait a long time to get another one,” Fury added.
Just In: Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo charged by FA
Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo has been charged with ‘improper and/or violent conduct following the incident where he appeared to knock a mobile phone out of a supporter’s hand.
The incident happened at Everton’s Goodison Park after Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat last April.
Footage shared on social media showed the Portugal international appearing to smash a phone out of a young fan’s hand as he left the pitch and headed towards the tunnel.
Ronaldo was cautioned by police regarding the incident in August and later issued an apology to 14- year-old Jacob Harding on his Instagram account, admitting his emotions after such a damaging result had got the better of him.
United have announced they will be supporting their player in response to the charge.
A statement from the FA read: ‘Cristiano Ronaldo has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3 for an incident that took place after Manchester United’s Premier League match against Everton FC on Saturday 9 April 2022.
‘It is alleged that the forward’s conduct after the final whistle was improper and/or violent.’
Just In: Roger Federer Retires From Tennis
The 41-year-old winner of 20 Grand Slam titles has been out of action since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon in 2021.
Tennis legend, Roger Federer has announced his retirement.
The Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer will retire after next week’s Laver Cup.
He made the announcement on Thursday.
“The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event,” he said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
The 41-year-old winner of 20 Grand Slam titles has been out of action since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon in 2021 before undergoing another bout of knee surgery.
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