Warriors make plans for overdue Finals trip 

click to enlarge Warriors
  • David J. Phillip/AP
  • Stephen Curry, left, Draymond Green, center, and Shaun Livingston had plenty to celebrate in the Warriors' Game 3 win over the Rockets in the Western Conference FInals on Saturday.
HOUSTON— So bent on perfection have the Warriors been this season, it seems even historical symmetry is in their game plan.

Forty years ago to the day that Rick Barry and the Warriors clinched the first and only NBA championship in the Bay Area, Stephen Curry and the Warriors can return to the NBA Finals for the first time since then tonight.

“This is a huge opportunity for us, obviously,” Curry said before a brief workout at Rice University on Sunday. “We’re keeping with our routine and our preparatio n. Until we get a win tomorrow — our fourth win — the mission stays the same.”

After what took place in Game 3 on Saturday night, Curry could be excused if his tone sounded a bit premature. The Warriors beat the Houston Rockets every which way in a 110-85 rout, the most lopsided victory in franchise history in the shot clock era.

To say the least, the Warriors did not look out of place against a Rockets team that should have been desperate for a victory on their home court.

“It feels normal, really,” said Curry, who was nothing short of spectacular in a 40-point performance that included seven 3-pointers. “It feels comfortable. We all feel ready for the moment. We’re able to block out the extracurricular stuff that can distract you from the focus on the court. We’re pretty content where we are, just hungry to keep getting better and doing what we’re doing.”

As they did early in the semifinals against the New Orleans Pelicans, coach Steve Kerr and his staff made adjustments designed to minimize the primary strength of their opponents.

After Rockets top gun James Harden burned the Warriors for 66 points in the first two games of the series, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala rotated against him this time. Klay Thompson had been the primary defender previously, and the switch enabled him to focus more on his role as a scorer.

What’s more, the Warriors did not turn the ball over in the first 14 minutes, at which point they had a 10-point lead. That limited Harden’s forays in the transition game, an area in which he is among the most lethal in the league. “It’s a great lesson for our team — if we defend like crazy and take care of the ball, we’re going to be in good shape,” Kerr said.

Harden was out of his comfort zone from the start, and he never found his rhythm thereafter. He finished with 16 points, the first time he had scored less than 20 this postseason. And if Harden doesn’t score, his team has few options left. The Rockets shot a horrendous 5 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc and scored only 14 points on fast breaks.

Now the Warriors are 48 minutes away from what they waited 40 years to achieve.

Said Curry, “It’s easy for us to stay hungry, because none of us has experienced this before, accomplished really anything. So we’ve got five more wins to accomplish our main goal. Now it’s one more to get one step closer. So there’s no time to lose focus or change anything about how we’ve gotten here.”

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