Sports | June 1, 2022 10:56 am

Steph, Klay and Draymond Have Three Titles, Also 1-2 in Finals Without Durant

Curry, Thompson and Green are headed to the Finals for the sixth time. They've won one trip, their first, without KD.

The Warriors Big Three on the floor against the Memphis Grizzlies
The Warriors Big Three on the floor against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Justin Ford/Getty Images

In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in San Francisco last week, the Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals on their home floor with a series-clinching victory over the Dallas Mavericks, giving Golden State their sixth trip to the championship round in the past eight seasons.

Following the game, Warriors forward Draymond Green talked about returning to the Finals again with teammates Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. “After being counted out, dynasty being over, and all those things. To get back is fantastic. It’s a testament on hard work and dedication. This one feels great,” Green told the media. “I’ve always said all along, no one has proven they can beat us yet when we’re whole. That is still the case.”

Is it?

The first time the Warriors advanced to the Finals with the core group of Green, Curry and Thompson, they took care of LeBron James and the Cavaliers in six games with veteran Andre Iguodala, not a member of Golden State’s Big Three, taking MVP honors for the series. The Warriors made it back to the Finals the following season and met James and the Cavs again, this time losing the championship after blowing a 3-1 series lead. Curry, Thompson and Green were all healthy for that series, although the latter missed Game 5 due to suspension for hitting James in the groin in Game 4. If the Warriors weren’t “whole” in that series in Green’s mind, it was no one’s fault but his own.

Following that season, Kevin Durant joined the Warriors and helped the team advance to the championship for the next three seasons, giving Golden State five consecutive NBA Finals appearances overall. The club won the first two title trips and then lost to the Toronto Raptors in the third in six games after Durant was injured early in the series and Thompson missed Game 3 due to injury. Did missing Thompson for a single game mean Golden State’s core trio wasn’t whole? Perhaps in Green’s mind, but it’s certainly a debatable point.

The history of Green, Curry and Thompson — with a fairly ancient Iguodala back in the fold — in the Finals as an all-time trio could certainly be a factor when they begin their sixth championship push against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in San Francisco. Thanks in large part to the experience of Iguodala, Thompson, Green and Curry (who rank fourth, sixth, eighth and 10th respectively among active players in total playoff minutes), Golden State’s roster collectively boasts 123 games of NBA Finals experience. The Celtics, on the other hand, have zero games under their green-and-white belts.

Golden State’s experience clearly seems to matter in Las Vegas as the majority of the sportsbooks have the Warriors listed as favorites in the series, even though the analytics crew over at FiveThirtyEight give the Celtics an 80% chance to take the title home to Boston. Does the FiveThirtyEight crew (who’ve never missed an overwhelming prediction like this…) know something we don’t? It’s possible the advanced statistics reveal something revelatory. Or maybe it’s just as simple as remembering Green, Curry and Thompson have lost more in the Finals when they’ve won when Durant wasn’t there to help.