News ID: 253441
Published: 0219 GMT May 28, 2019

Warriors embrace new NBA Finals challenge with Raptors

Warriors embrace new NBA Finals challenge with Raptors
JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

After four straight years of facing LeBron James and Cleveland in the NBA Finals, this feels refreshing for the two-time defending champion Warriors.

Off to Toronto, finally a fresh team that’s tops from the East, The Associated Press reported.

Golden State is embracing every part of this new-look — well, the other half of it, at least — finals.

“I love it,” Stephen Curry said Monday following Golden State’s first game-planning practice ahead of the series opener Thursday night in Toronto.

Golden State is well-rested after wrapping up its Western Conference finals sweep of Portland on May 20 — giving the Warriors nine full days off between games.

Toronto won the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 6 victory against Milwaukee on Saturday.

This certainly isn’t the familiar Cavaliers.

“That was the exception. This is more the rule,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“You’re not supposed to play the same team every year. So that was a special era, a special rivalry and we’re thrilled to be back. Cleveland has moved on and their team has broken up and with LeBron leaving the East, things were wide open.

“It was a hell of a ride through that East playoffs for Philly, Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto, all great teams, quality of play was something to watch. Toronto obviously emerged as the best team of the East and well deserved. The scene the other night was amazing to watch, too. The fans in Toronto have been amazing over the years. I’ve compared that arena to Oracle many times. When I was in broadcasting both the Raptors and the Warriors were really bad and yet every time I went to either arena there was this organic energy that felt so much alike, so similar. And there’s just a genuine love for the game in both regions.”

This is the last hurrah for Oracle Arena, too, before the Warriors move across the bay to new Chase Center for next season.

“Everybody talks about it’s hard to find that edge and get up for, (you) find some sort of monotony — I don’t know if you find that in the finals — that’s part of human nature that you fight,” Curry said.

“So I like the challenge and the unfamiliarity of this kind of schedule and flow. We’ve been there before, we’ve experienced a lot and this is I think something we’re capable of doing.”

Curry has a special affinity for Toronto, where he spent two years in middle school when his dad, Dell, played for the Raptors from 2000-02. Curry’s wife, Ayesha, grew up outside Toronto.

“I still don’t think it’s sunk in this is for the finals, so pretty special,” Curry said.

He will be focused on bringing home Golden State’s third straight title and fourth in five years — an NBA Finals MVP would mean so much — yet can still appreciate what Toronto is experiencing at last.

“In what 24 years of their existence and for them to finally get over the hump, you could tell how much it meant. The city was going crazy,” Curry said.

“It looked like they had won the championship already the way that they were celebrating. It’s the first time there, so the fans really got into it. It looked like a crazy atmosphere. In that short 24 years there’s a lot of history and there were some great teams. I think it was 2002 the team my dad was on with Vince (Carter), Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams. … They’ve gotten close and obviously the last couple years they’ve been struggling with Cleveland. There’s a lot of passion up there for the game of basketball, for the Raptors. You could tell how much it meant.”

 

   
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