TORONTO (AFP) – Golden State star guard Stephen Curry likes how the Warriors are playing as they seek a third consecutive title starting in Thursday’s opening game of the NBA Finals against Toronto.
Chasing a fourth crown in five seasons, something no team has achieved in half a century, the Warriors enter the best-of-seven showdown with more finals experience than the Raptors, in the first final of the team’s 24-season history.
“I like the energy we’re coming in with for game one,” Curry said Wednesday. “We’ve been here before. We understand the hoopla and the pandemonium around the finals and how different things are when it comes to just the schedule and the vibe.
‘‘We’ve seen a lot and we’ll be ready for it.’’
But they aren’t dismissing the Raptors because they are newcomers to the finals.
‘‘They have a very good team and they’re here for a reason so you can’t take them lightly just because they haven’t been here before,’’ Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. ‘‘They have our respect and we’ll come correct tomorrow.’’
The Warriors are 5-0 without star forward Kevin Durant, sidelined by a right calf injury, and center DeMarcus Cousins is questionable with a torn right quadriceps muscle.
But Golden State relied on solid play from Curry – averaging 27.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists – as well as reserves and improved play from forward Draymond Green to keep their title quest on course.
‘‘His leadership has been great,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green. ‘‘He’s slimmer, sleeker and faster and that confidence has allowed him to be more poised on the floor.
‘‘You’re seeing the best of Draymond right now. He’s in great condition, an unbelievably high level of play and very poised.’’
Green is averaging 13.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.4 steals as well as backing up his claim to be the NBA’s best-ever defender.
‘‘If you’re trying to do something meaningful, if you don’t have the mindset that you’re the best ever, you failed already,’’ Green said. ‘‘That has been my mindset since I can remember – that I am the best ever at what I do.