Wrestlemania, WWE’s biggest show of the year, is referred to as the grandest stage of them all. And while it was taking place on the opposite coast at the same time, Stephen Curry and the Warriors usurped that nickname for their last regular-season game at Oracle Arena.
It started early with a “We Believe” banner, reached its peak with Curry unveiling jerseys from that era after introductions, and ended with a 131-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers — all while the Oracle faithful cheered on.
Curry said it was just a fun moment to take the court in the jerseys that he once wore:
“When we saw the throwback jerseys in our lockers, that’s when it became real, like tonight’s a different type of celebration… It was a nice little surprise for the last night at Oracle during the regular season. For me it was weird because I actually wore that jersey back in 09, so it was probably a different experience for me than for everybody else who had never worn that jersey.”
It wasn’t just throwback jerseys and Warriors legends that brought back memories of old. It was one of the liveliest crowds of the year with an energy reminiscent of the days before championship banners and ticket prices soared toward the sky.
The Warriors (56-24) gave the crowd more to cheer about than just jerseys as Curry had a vintage performance, scoring 27 points on 11-of-20 from the field. And ended his night fittingly with a step-back 30-footer as his last regular season bucket at Oracle.
An explosive 42-18 third quarter pushed the game into blowout territory, but there was no doubt that the Warriors were winning this game from the start.
Steve Kerr said taking care of the ball was key in that stretch:
“We broke free in that third, it was great. The biggest thing was that we didn’t turn the ball over, I don’t think we did a single time, and everyone was moving the ball.”
Kevin Durant attacked early and often and poured in 16 points on just seven shots, with seven assists.
You could see that this team was hyped — and the joy that radiated from them, even during warmups — was palpable.
The joy could have been because just two games remain in the regular season, with the No. 1 in the West already sewn up.
It could also have to do with putting on one last show for Oracle Arena.
Draymond Green said he enjoyed everything about the night:
“Great atmosphere. To wear those jerseys, that was amazing obviously. These jerseys hold a special place in Warriors fan’s hearts 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 at Oracle. It doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty dope.”
But that show doesn’t end with a regular season blowout over the Clippers (47-34) — it ends with another title, which looks like a very good possibility, especially with the way they are hitting their groove right now.
You know what you’re going to get with Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson, but it’s been the role players who have really started to heat up.
Green continued to stuff the statsheet with 10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, five steals and three blocks, and looks rejuvenated after a sluggish first half of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins rebounded from a rough start to finish with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Even their bench, which has plagued them all season with inconsistent play, looks ready. Quinn Cook had another quality outing with 10 points and has reached double-figures in four of the last five games.
And while Andrew Bogut played just eight minutes, they were eight extremely impactful minutes, altering shots and playing stifling defense at the rim.
Kerr said that while Bogut’s minutes aren’t guaranteed, he can always be counted on to contribute:
“The beauty of what we’ve got with Bogues is that we can put him in there anytime. Or we can not put him in there and he’s fine with that too. The addition has meant so much to us and it just gives us more flexibility and more depth. He’s been one of the top defensive centers in the game for a long time, so I won’t hesitate to put him into any game, at any time.”
It was an end of an era Sunday night, as the team raised a banner at the end of the night, emblazoned with 47, for their 47 seasons in Oracle.
But it’s not the end for this arena — there’s still the playoffs, and the Warriors hope they’ll be another banner raising at the end of that.
The Warriors wrap up the regular season with a back-to-back starting at New Orleans (33-48) Tuesday before finishing Wednesday at Memphis (32-48). They’ll have a couple days to rest before starting the playoffs either Saturday or Sunday.