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|Kevin Durant drove coast-to-coast just before halftime for a monster two-handed slam.
Klay Thompson swished a turnaround fadeaway as the halftime buzzer sounded and scurried for the tunnel hands raised high in triumph. Stephen Curry Oren Burks Color Rush Jersey , in street clothes, hopped up and down on his injured left knee celebrating wildly with his Splash Brother.
Draymond Green pounded the glass at every chance for another spectacular rebounding night.
The defending champions are back, all right. They are rolling. And Curry could be close to putting on a uniform again.
”I hope, but I’m not going to expect it because I don’t want to get my hopes up and not have them fulfilled,” Thompson said. ”If he doesn’t play, we’re prepared. If he does play, hallelujah.”
Golden State has endured barely a blip so far, losing only Game 4 of its first-round series against San Antonio before closing out the Spurs with Tuesday night’s 99-91 victory.
They will open the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals against New Orleans in Saturday’s Game 1 at Oracle Arena. Former Warriors top assistant Alvin Gentry coaches the Pelicans.
”Well, fortunately, Alvin Gentry really doesn’t know what he’s doing,” coach Steve Kerr cracked. ”That’s a joke.”
For weeks ahead of the playoffs, the Warriors hardly looked like the super team that dominated through last year’s postseason. Yet Kerr and his players insisted all along they would find another level and groove when the stage got bigger in April – and they were spot on in those sentiments.
The defense has been stellar.
And the Warriors could be at full strength again soon, with Curry ready to lead the show once he’s healthy from a sprained medial collateral ligament.
The three other All-Stars and a cast of reliable role players have handled things beautifully without him.
”We’re a championship team. We know what type of defense we need to play Youth Lamar Jackson Jersey ,” Green said. ”I think throughout the regular season, you want to get there every night, but it’s just not realistic, especially coming off a championship.”
Sure, Golden State might not make another remarkable, record-setting 16-1 run through the postseason again, but Kerr’s pass-happy bunch sure looks to be back in top form going into the next round.
And Green is leading the way by doing everything on both ends as usual. He grabbed a playoff-career high 19 rebounds in Game 5 after getting 18 his previous outing.
”We expect him to continue to play with this edge because when he does and he’s played with great emotion and passion, that’s when he’s at his best,” Thompson said.
Curry will be re-evaluated later this week as he continues to do more on-court work recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
He got hurt March 23 on the very night he returned from a six-game absence with his latest ankle injury. It was bad luck, too, as center JaVale McGee fell into him.
Soon, Kerr hopes, he will have his starting lineup intact again and his rotations more reliable – no longer having to piece things together as he did late in the regular season while using an astonishing 27 different starting lineups to get through and wind up a No. 2 seed this time.
”Steph has been coming into the gym every day working and he’s doing his thing and we are doing ours D.J. Fluker Color Rush Jersey ,” Kerr said. ”We are just hoping for the best. Not making any predictions.”
Golden State has won a franchise-record 12 consecutive postseason home games and 20 of the last 22 in the playoffs overall.
Kerr will push his players to keep the momentum from this series and build off all of the things the Warriors did so well.
”We played hard. We played really hard,” he said. ”We played together and stayed with it. We held them to 37 percent shooting tonight which is great. Our defensive effort for the five games was fantastic. It’s obviously going to get more difficult now as we go, so we’ve got to just keep going.”
After years of planning and many millions in spending, there was one thing organizers of Super Bowl 52 couldn’t control – a Minnesota winter.
The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots played inside. But as fans were heading to U.S. Bank Stadium at noon Sunday, the temperature in Minneapolis was minus-2 degrees, with a wind chill of negative 23 – by far the coldest Super Bowl on record – raising questions about whether the NFL’s marquee event would ever return to Minnesota.
While warmer climates tend to be more popular host cities, a flashy new stadium and amenities often play a bigger role than the weather in determining who will host the big game.
”The owners will do as they like. So that’s one of those decisions that’s just not up to the fan base,” said Mark Cobb, who has been to several Super Bowls in his work for the NFL Players Association. ”Wherever has the newest, prettiest stadium, that’s who gets the game.”
Cobb, of Washington, said everyone in Minnesota was nice http://www.ramsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-john-franklin-myers-jersey , and he’d return to Minneapolis for a Super Bowl. But he said the weather felt ”like I was being punished. Minnesota is where they send you when you’re bad. But if you embrace it like the people who live here, instead of fighting it, it’s not so bad.”
The NFL has used the Super Bowl as a reward for municipalities that pump public money into new venues. Minnesota was awarded the game in 2014, two years after state lawmakers approved a financing package that had taxpayers paying nearly half the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium.
Other northern cities have reaped similar benefits. New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium got a Super Bowl in its fourth season, the only outdoor Super Bowl at a northern site to date (2014). Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis hosted in 2012 and Ford Field in Detroit hosted in 2006, both at the end of their fourth seasons. The only other Super Bowls held in the north were in suburban Detroit at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982 and in Minneapolis at the Metrodome in 1992.
While warmer climates have held more Super Bowls, there is no rotation of pre-selected cities that get picked, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. He said it’s up to club owners to take the initial step of expressing an interest in hosting. The sites of the next four Super Bowls are already chosen: Atlanta in 2019, followed by South Florida, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.
Atlanta has a stadium that opened in 2017. Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa have been renovated in the past three years, and Los Angeles will have a new stadium by the time it hosts the game.
McCarthy said the weather in Minneapolis wasn’t a negative. Instead, he said it provided new experiences for fans, some of whom took advantage of the Minneapolis skyway system Sam Hubbard Color Rush Jersey , a collection of enclosed – and heated – pedestrian bridges.
”We knew weather was going to be a factor and we embraced it,” he said.
Andrea Mokros, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, said the event was a ”huge success.” Visitor numbers were still being calculated, but Mokros said outdoor concerts and other events were well attended, even on the coldest nights during 10 days of festivities.
”The cold didn’t slow anyone down and in fact made it a more memorable experience,” she said. Mokros said the winter climate allowed the host committee to offer a different sort of fun for guests, such as snowmobiling or skijoring (cross-country skiing while being pulled by a dog). And she said she felt some pride when she saw celebrities donning winter hats and embracing the cold weather.
Paul Vaaler, a professor of management and law at the University of Minnesota law school and the Carlson School of Management, said while warmer tourist destinations are more likely to get Super Bowls, there is some strategy to spreading the game to different franchises: The promise of a Super Bowl can lead cities to build new stadiums and keep teams from leaving certain markets.
Because of that, he said, other northern cities are likely to host the Super Bowl before Minnesota gets another chance.
”That incentive to build a stadium and attract the Super Bowl is gone (for Minnesota) Derwin James Color Rush Jersey , but it’s not gone in a place like Cincinnati, or a place like Denver” or other northern NFL cities that have stadiums that are more than 20 years old. ”For other northern climates, there will be pressure.”
Some fans said the weather was tolerable and there were plenty of experiences in Minneapolis to keep them entertained. Others said that even though Minnesotans were hospitable, they’d prefer a warmer location.
”The cold was just brutal,” said Philadelphia Eagles fan Terry Laufer of Carrollton, Virginia. His wife, Rhonda, said: ”I would never be able to bring children here. It would be too risky.” The pair said they’d return with their grandkids in September, when it’s warmer.
”You could have had the Arctic Circle and it would have been a great experience,” said Jody Haggerty of Milford, Pennsylvania. ”Minneapolis made it work. … It’s not about the location. It’s about the experience, the atmosphere and the game.”
Associated Press writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report.