SAN FRANCISCO: Stephen Curry was honored with his second-consecutive league MVP award before leading Golden State to a 125-121 victory over Portland as the Warriors advanced to back-to-back conference finals.
The night started with Curry’s award for the first unanimous MVP trophy and ended with the superstar capping his 29-point performance with four free throws in the final 18 seconds to give the Warriors a 4-1 series victory over the Trail Blazers.
Asked if he ever dreamed he would be the NBA’s first unanimous MVP selection Curry said, “never in my wildest dreams. I grew up watching the game and a lot of legends.”
“I am proud to be part of that group and to have that honor is unbelievable,” he added.
The Warriors advanced to their first back-to-back NBA semi-finals since the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons by winning their eighth consecutive series clinching game at home.
Golden State now awaits the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder-San Antonio Spurs series.
If Oklahoma City eliminate the Spurs in game six on Thursday, the best-of-seven Western Conference finals would begin Monday in Oakland.
“We knew it would be a dog fight every game,” Curry said. “We had to grind it out.”
“Last year we came out for the ceremony and then lost on home floor,” he added. “It wasn’t easy, but we found a way to get it done.”
The fifth-seeded Trail Blazers made the Warriors work for their win on Wednesday.
Portland led by as many as 11 early and got to 118-115 in the final minute of the contest.
Warriors Klay Thompson forced Portland star Damian Lillard to miss a shot from 17 feet. Curry then busted loose and nailed a 25-footer for the clutch basket that put Golden State up 121-116.
Thompson led the Warriors with 33 points, hitting 13 of 17 from the field and six of nine three-point attempts.
Curry’s 29 points were a result of 10-for-20 shooting, including five-for-11 on three-pointers.
In his first start since spraining a ligament in his right knee during the first-round series against the Houston Rockets, he went 36 minutes and tallied a game-high 11 assists.
Curry admitted Wednesday he is feeling mentally and physically tired.
Wild three days
“It has been a wild three days,” Curry said. “From the first game I came back when I gave everything I had that night. Then I came home and with the festivities yesterday. But in the playoffs there are no excuses.”
In the earlier game Wednesday, DeMar DeRozan tallied 34 points as the Toronto Raptors seized a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference series with a 99-91 win over the Miami Heat.
Toronto guard Kyle Lowry scored 25 points, including five in the final minute as the Raptors fended off a late Miami surge.
The Raptors started quickly and led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter and were ahead by 20 in the second quarter before the Heat mounted their attack.
The Raptors took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Heat cut it to five with just under five minutes remaining at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre arena.
The margin was down to one after Dwyane Wade converted two free throws with just under two minutes to play. Wade finished with a team high 20 points for the Heat.
DeRozan made two free throws with 1:33 left, and Toronto led by three points.
DeRozan also made two free throws with 21 seconds left and made two more with nine seconds remaining to increase the lead to eight points and clinch the win.
Bismack Biyombo added 10 points and six rebounds for Toronto.
Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each scored 13 points for the Heat, and Joe Johnson added 11 points and eight rebounds.