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NBA Playoffs 2016

Stephen Curry and his record-setting Golden State Warriors head back to NBA Finals after Thunderous fightback

Curry and Klay Thompson carry the 73-win Warriors back to the Finals, as Golden State rally from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 in game seven

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 11:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 11:59am

Stephen Curry dribbled every which way and drained yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Now, the MVP and his teammates are playing for another NBA title – just as they planned all along.

Bring on LeBron James once more.

Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 on Monday night in game seven of the western conference finals.

Curry scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, while Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a game six comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series.

They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured their first championship in 40 years.

Game one is Friday morning (Hong Kong time) in Oakland.

Hanging in there: Golden State Warriors force game six of western conference finals after solid win over Oklahoma City Thunder

His signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, Curry pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

The Thunder trailing 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out. The MVP made all three free throws, then a 3-pointer to seal it.

And Golden State’s beloved “Strength In Numbers” catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Steve Kerr was needed in every way on this night to do it.

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Oklahoma City won game one 108-102 at a deafening, sold-out Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily.

Staying Alive: Klay Thompson’s sharp-shooting saves Golden State’s season as Warriors take it to the wire

It just took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after he hit an NBA play-off-record 11 3-pointers for 41 points in a 108-101 win on Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series to a decisive seventh game back home in the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3 6:02 before half-time, energising the Warriors in their first game seven at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry’s 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30.

Champions facing the exit? Warriors lose again as Thunder take control of NBA playoff

Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup for just his second start of the season and first of the play-offs, and what a move by Kerr and his staff, who did the same thing last year in crunch time. Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Draymond Green for Golden State’s first basket of the game, and his smothering defence on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first. Durant had just nine points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of their success this season. The Thunder couldn’t maintain it.

The Warriors, who began 3 for 11 from long range and 9 of 32 overall while falling behind 35-22, lost their last game seven at home: 94-86 to Phoenix in the western conference finals on May 16, 1976.