A fourth straight trip to NBA Finals hinges on Warriors applying lessons already learned


HOUSTON -- Walking out of a meeting at the five-star hotel lodging them for the third time in two weeks, the Warriors on Sunday evening looked calm and relaxed. As they should, for they know all they need to know about the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors know Game 7 on Monday night is about them and their performance. Through history and reminders from the coaching staff and their leaders, they fully understand that they can hurt themselves more than Houston ever could.

Whether the Warriors prevail or fail in their quest for four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals will be dictated by three factors, in order: turnovers, defensive harmony and general tenacity.

If they go 0-for-3, the offseason begins late Monday night.

If they go 1-for-3, they lose.

If they go 2-for-3, they’ll probably win.

If they go 3-for-3, they’ll blow the Rockets off their own floor.

At the mention of turnovers, Shaun Livingston busted into laughter.

“That’s it,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area after shootaround Monday. “Yup that’s it. Every game that we’ve lost, that’s been a problem. That’s a big one.”

Stephen Curry has heard the same message. Repeatedly.

“Do not turn the ball over,” he said when asked what the coaching staff as stressed between Games 6 and 7. “And take away the 3. And do not get stagnant on offense.

“If we do those three things and our defense shows up, we should be in pretty good shape. We’ve proven that when we don’t take care of those three aspects of the game, the game gets away from us.

“And, to be honest, those are things that we can control, for the most part, with our effort and our attention to detail.”

As much as the Warriors were diminished by a wave of injuries, the bigger reason for their inability to lock up the No. 1 overall seed is regular-season tedium, which led to too many nights when at least two of those three factors were not evident.

Turnovers and defense are always a topic of discussion and review, but the significance of a Game 7 in the conference finals magnifies both.

“That’s where we miss Andre,” Livingston said, referring to Andre Iguodala, who was ruled out of Game 7 with a bone bruise near his left knee.

When they gathered Sunday at the team hotel, the Warriors had an idea what might be reviewed. They sat at four tables, before a big-screen TV. They saw the good and the bad of this series. They talked about it, ad nauseam, because that’s what happens this deep into a playoff series.

“They’ve been showing the games we won, how hard we’ve played and how disciplined we’ve played,” Livingston said. “Those things have to stick in our mind going into the game. You want those snapshots in your mind.”

They know that task that lies ahead, and they the surest route to completing it.

It’s not exactly new.

“That’s not just a “this series” thing,” Curry said. “That’s a “since Coach Kerr has been here” thing. We should know it by now.”

Knowing it is one thing, doing it quite another. There’s not much more to be done, other than applying lessons already learned.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Rockets 98, Warriors 94
Game 6 Warriors 115, Rockets 86
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm
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