What we learned as Klay leads Warriors back to NBA Finals

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors have reached Michael Jordan territory

Aside from a lackadaisical third quarter, Golden State on Thursday night crushed the Dallas Mavericks in all facets, ending the Western Conference finals with a 120-110 Game 5 win at Chase Center. 

They're now the first franchise since Jordan's Chicago Bulls to reach six NBA Finals in an eight-season span. In reality, the Warriors now have gone to six straight Finals when Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are healthy. There's no other way to put it: That Big Three will go down as perhaps the best in NBA history. 

Once again, they proved why. 

Klay Thompson couldn't miss and finished with a game-high 32 points. Steph Curry's dagger 3-pointer gave the Warriors a 16-point lead with two minutes left. He played facilitator most of the night, ending with 15 points and nine assists. Draymond Green scored a season-high 17 points to go with nine assists and six rebounds.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors dominating the Mavs on their way to the Finals yet again.

Game 5 Klay

How many nicknames does this guy need? For someone known to dominate Game 6 of a playoff series, Klay made sure this one wasn't extended any longer.

In the first halves of the first four games combined, Thompson scored 18 points. He reached that total in the first half alone in Game 5 over 19 minutes. He made five 3-pointers between the last two games in Dallas, and also hit that mark in the first half on Thursday night. Yeah, he was happy to be back home. 

After shooting 29.2 percent from deep through the first four games of the series, Thompson went 8-for-16 from 3-point range and 12-for-25 overall. In the first four games, he made only seven 3-pointers. He even hit the home crowd with Curry's famed shimmy. 

Thompson hadn't scored 20 points once in the first four games of the conference finals. With his sixth 3-pointer of the night, he hit the 22-point mark with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was one of those nights for the franchise-favorite.

Having two days off in between the first two games of the Finals will be huge for Thompson. The more rest the merrier, and he sure did look rejuvenated in those one.

Strength In Numbers

Otto Porter Jr. missed his second straight game to lingering left foot soreness, and Steve Kerr didn't hold back how important the veteran forward is to the success of the Warriors. 

"Otto's absence is a really big deal," Kerr said pregame to reporters.

With Porter out again, along with Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala, Kerr dug deep into his bag. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga took Porter's spot in the rotation the game before, but this time, that belonged to Nemanja Bjelica. The veteran big man was a plus-18 two nights ago in the Warriors' loss, and that carried over into Game 5. 

Bjelica, Jordan Poole and Moses Moody provided huge first-half minutes to give the Warriors a 17-point lead going into halftime.

Poole scored 16 points off the bench, and don't forget about Kevon Looney. The starting center put up his second double-double during these playoffs, this time dropping 10 points and 18 rebounds. 

Now We Wait

Now that the Warriors are back in the Finals, they could know their opponent as soon as Friday night when the Celtics take on the Heat at TD Garden. The Celtics hold a three-games-to-two lead over the Heat and will look to be crowned Eastern Conference champions in front of their home fans. 

The Warriors won their first of two contests against the Celtics in the regular season, but were blown out in their second -- a game in which Steph Curry sustained a foot injury early on and missed the final month of the regular season. They also played the Heat twice in the regular season and came away with two wins. 

Those two victories had an even greater impact than Golden State could have imagined. The Warriors and Heat both finished with a 53-29 regular-season record. The Heat had the best record in the East, while the Warriors had the third-best record in the West. 

But those two wins give the Warriors home-court advantage, no matter who they play. 

The Finals begin in one week at Chase Center on Thursday, June 2.

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