SAN ANTONIO -- The Golden State Warriors have advanced to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year after sweeping the San Antonio Spurs by way of a 129-115 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Monday.
The Warriors are now a perfect 12-0 in the playoffs, and they are the first team in NBA history to accomplish such a feat. They're also the first team in NBA history to sweep three best-of-seven series in the same postseason.
"It's a big task. It's a huge accomplishment, and I tip my hat off to all of our players, our coaching staff was phenomenal," Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said.
Stephen Curry produced a game-high 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting. He also had five boards, six assists and five 3-pointers.
He dribbled circles around whoever was guarding him. There was minimum defensive resistance, whether he was penetrating to the basket or getting open for 3s out of pick-and-pop sets.
After drilling his fourth 3-pointer of the game, Curry passed Kobe Bryant (292) for fifth place on the NBA's all-time playoff 3-pointers list. Curry now has 295 career postseason 3s.
Curry said that starting "12-0 is great, but it doesn't mean anything going into the next series." He harped on how impressed he was with his team's overall closeout mentality.
"It's a great run, and we had an opportunity to get it done tonight," Curry said. "But more importantly, it was obviously just a closeout kind of mentality coming into tonight, trying to take care of business, play a good 48-minute game."
Kevin Durant dominated this game while in cruise control. Nothing was rushed on his part. He picked his spots and attacked when needed, which resulted in 29 points on 10-of-13 from the field to go with 12 rebounds.
"You look down at the box score, and KD had a heck of a game scoring," Brown said. "He was very efficient with his scoring."
Kevin Durant played like a superstar in the Conference Finals. Here's a closer look at his domination pic.twitter.com/GcbKFtmeOz
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 23, 2017
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tossed in a little starting-lineup wrinkle by inserting veteran Manu Ginobili in his starting five, and Brown countered with the starting of rookie forward Patrick McCaw.
San Antonio's adjustment didn't work out. With no dependable playmaker in uniform, an abundance of the Spurs' field goal attempts were tough, contested shots. The Warriors, on the other hand, got what they wanted when they wanted.
San Antonio simply didn't have the firepower.
In the second quarter, Spurs rookie point guard Dejounte Murray got a steal and took off for a fast-break opportunity with only one man to beat: Durant.
Murray raced up the court and went up for an acrobatic, left-handed layup. Durant leaped and swatted the shot with his left hand. Durant had so much hang time on his jump that when the ball ricocheted off the glass, he inadvertently swatted the ball off the glass again with his right hand.
San Antonio gave it an effort, cutting what was a 22-point, third-quarter margin down to 10 with three minutes to go in the quarter. However, Golden State responded with a fierce 10-0 run and never looked back.
"I feel like we could definitely be better," Durant said. "Like tonight, we had them on the ropes and they just kept clawing and fighting. So you've got to give them credit for that."
The Spurs were held to 42.3 percent shooting. The Warriors shot 55.8 percent. Curry, with his six turnovers, had two fewer than what the Spurs committed as a team. A 24-4 advantage in points off turnovers still wasn't enough to substantially help the home team.
"They were fantastic," Popovich said of the Warriors. "You know, to all of them, from ownership, to Bob [Myers], to Steve [Kerr], Mike and the whole staff. The whole group. The players, obviously. [They] play a great brand of basketball. Fun to watch. They were fantastic. They did it with class, so hats off to them."
The only friction the Warriors went through came early in the contest.
Curry drove hard right on Jonathon Simmons and threw up a wild shot while being bumped to the hardwood. The ball kissed the top of the glass before finding its way through the net. Curry couldn't believe that there was no whistle and stayed planted to argue his case with his team getting back on defense.
The Spurs had numbers, and Draymond Green was forced to commit a foul. After he stopped play, a furious Green was seen yelling at Curry to get back on defense.
Green flirted with a triple-double as he started at center, ending the night with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Green was asked if it left a spoiled taste in his mouth to defeat a depleted Spurs squad.
"We didn't just go play Sisters of the Poor," he said. "We played the San Antonio Spurs. This is a team that can still win no matter who they put out on the floor. ... So, obviously, it sucks that Kawhi wasn't there and Tony [Parker] wasn't there and David [Lee] wasn't there. But at the end of the day, a win is a win, and you have to beat whoever is out there against you."
Ginobili received a standing ovation when he checked out with 2:25 left on the clock. Chants of "Manu, Manu" showered down, as fans knew that this might be the last game of his career. He finished with 15 points and seven assists. Ginobili, who turns 40 this July, has spent each of his 15 NBA seasons in San Antonio.
"Well, you know, Manu, he's a grown man. He'll figure out what’s best for him and his family. We started him tonight out of respect," Popovich said.
"If he decides he’s going to play again, that up to him, but I won't try to convince him one way or the other. I don't think he needs that."
"Like Steph said, 12-0 really doesn't matter into the next series. We know it's going to be a battle," Durant said.