The Golden State Warriors have advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975, this after beating Houston, 104-90, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday.
“It’s great for our fans,” Warriors radio voice Tim Roye said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We have a loyal fan base. It was this kind of relief of, ‘Oh, my God, this finally happened. We lived long enough to see this happen.’ I think for a lot of our fans, it’s a great moment because now for our younger fans it’s like, ‘I don’t have to listen about my dad’s or my granddad’s Warriors anymore. I’ve got my own team now.’ So it was really cool. It was a really special moment and just another step in what has been, to the moment, one of the better seasons in NBA history.”
The Warriors looked a bit nervous at the beginning of Game 5 and trailed Houston 22-17 after the first quarter.
“Yeah, I think the pressure was all on them,” Roye said. “I thought the Rockets, after (they) got behind 3-0, played with house money. There’s really no pressure on them. If they win, they win. If they don’t, they don’t. I thought the game got a little sloppy. I thought there was some nerves out there. The Warriors were anxious. They were kind of moving the ball where they shouldn’t have moved the ball.”
Eventually, though, Golden State settled down. The Warriors scored 35 points in the second quarter and led 52-46 at halftime.
Now it’s on to the NBA Finals.
No Warriors player has ever played in the Finals, but their coach, Steve Kerr, has played in a bunch – four, to be exact. He also has an experienced coaching staff led by Alvin Gentry.
“(The coaching staff) can definitely pass that (experience) on to the players,” Roye said. “They’ve never been there before. It’s been a nice balance. I think having Steve there will help them in the Finals.”
Golden State went 1-1 versus Cleveland in the regular season, winning at home and losing on the road. LeBron James, however, didn’t play in the January game at ORACLE. But he did play in Cleveland in February, scoring 42 points and leading the Cavs to a 110-99 win.
“They know he’s a tough matchup,” Roye said. “They know they can win, but LeBron’s on a mission. He wants to get a title to the hometown. He’s the big dog in the NBA. Steph Curry’s the MVP, but LeBron’s still LeBron.”
It’s not just his talent the Warriors will have to contend with, either. It’s also his experience. James is playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals.
“He knows what the deal is,” Roye said. “He’s been under the bright lights. For these guys (the Warriors) it’s all new – and that would be, I think, the concern heading in.”
The NBA Finals begin Thursday, June 4. The first two games are in Oakland.