The Warriors, who had been battling with the Denver Nuggets for the top spot over the past few months, were led by Stephen Curry, who scored 27 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, while Kevin Durant added 16 points and seven assists.
Sunday’s game took on added meaning for the Warriors given that it was the final regular-season game at Oracle Arena. The Warriors move to Chase Center in September after 47 years in Oakland. After the game ended, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spoke to the crowd, thanking them for their support over the years in the building. After Kerr’s speech, he unveiled a banner that will hang in Chase Center. It reads: “Oakland, California 47 seasons.”
“It was kind of strange, to be honest with you,” Kerr said of speaking to the fans. “It was a really nice moment. All of the fans stuck around, which was great, but we’re coming right back and playing Game 1 Saturday or Sunday. Hopefully, we’ll have another send-off in a grander manner.”
The Warriors celebrated the occasion by wearing jerseys from the “We Believe” era, which was highlighted by the Warriors defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, becoming the first 8-seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in a seven-game series. Curry came to the arena wearing a Monta Ellis jersey, celebrating the player he spent time with in the Warriors’ backcourt when he first came into the league.
As Curry took off his warm-up shirt after lineup introductions, he smiled wide and joyfully screamed while revealing the jersey. While he acknowledged that he didn’t feel many extra emotions driving to the arena knowing that the playoffs begin at Oracle next weekend, he started to feel some more as the game drew closer.
“It’s definitely a different feel,” Curry said. “Just in terms of what tonight means. Closing out 47 regular seasons playing in this building so — and then especially when we saw the throwback jerseys in our lockers. That’s when I think it became a little bit real, like tonight’s a different celebration, so a pretty cool night all the way around. Glad we got the win in the fashion that we did. Just a night of celebration blending the history and the present, and [I’m] looking forward to next weekend.”
The crowd was noticeably more energetic at the beginning of the game, especially after a short video tribute to Warriors great Al Attles played after the first timeout. Attles, who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, has spent over 50 years within the Warriors organization in various roles.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “To wear these jerseys, it was amazing, obviously. These jerseys hold a special place in Warriors fans’ heart and this organization and the history of this organization. So it was great to go out there and play in these jerseys for the last regular-season game here at Oracle. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty dope. So that didn’t hurt at all.”
The Warriors have said repeatedly in recent weeks that locking up the 1-seed wasn’t as important as staying healthy down the stretch, but having the comfort of home-court advantage in the final season at Oracle was a goal for the group. Now that they have accomplished that, Kerr says he will give the top eight guys in his rotation an off night either Tuesday or Wednesday as the group waits to find out who they’ll play in the first round next weekend.
“We’re going to rest guys,” Kerr said. “But we haven’t figured out exactly how we’re going to do it. The most likely thing we’ll do is take the probably eight guys who we want to rest, split them up four and four. Four of them play one night on the back-to-back, four of them play the other. That’s roughly what we’re thinking — we haven’t thought much more than that. But there’s no point in playing everybody both nights with risking injury, but I would like everybody to play one of the games just to get rhythm for the playoffs.”
The Warriors head into this playoff run hoping to become the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to go to the NBA Finals five straight times. The Warriors are also looking to become the first team since the 2000-2002 Los Angeles Lakers to win back-to-back-to-back NBA championships.