by Jim SLATER
OAKLAND, United States (AFP) — Stephen Curry and Draymond Green vow the Golden State Warriors will remain championship contenders despite their NBA Finals loss to Toronto and major injuries to stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
The Raptors downed Golden State 114-110 Thursday to capture the best-of-seven series four games to two, Thompson scoring 30 points to lead the Warriors before leaving with a left knee injury in the third quarter.
Durant was already absent, having ruptured his right Achilles tendon in game five ensuring a year of major rehabilitation.
Both Durant and Thompson, whose agent says he has a torn knee ligament, could be free agents next season, so the Warriors’ roster could see major changes before the next campaign.
“There’s a lot of decisions that will go into the summer and we’ll deal with those,” Curry said.
“True champions like we are, we should be able to adapt and keep this same kind of DNA no matter what our roster looks like next year.
“It’s tough to lose in the finals, but the story’s not over yet.”
The dethroned Warriors missed a chance for a third consecutive title and to become the first team in 50 years to win four in five years.
“Everybody thinks it’s the end of us. But that’s just not smart. We’re not done yet,” Green said. “We lost this year. I hear a lot of that noise. It’s the end of a run and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening though.
“We’ll be back.”
For all the adversity they faced, the Warriors had a chance to seize the lead late but Curry missed a 3-pointer that led to three late free throws by Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career.
“Our DNA and who we are and the character we have on this team, I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage next year and going forward,” Curry said.
“Really proud of the way we fought until the end and this five-year run’s been awesome, but definitely don’t think it’s over.
“It’s how do you respond and how hard do you work to try to get back to this stage.”
Thompson’s determination, trying to stay in the game before eventually leaving the arena on crutches, summed up the effort of a never-day-die club.
“This team has a ton of heart so it’s no shocker we continue to fight,” Green said. “I don’t know many people with as much heart as Klay. Aggressive as he was, he was carrying us and when he went down obviously we lose a lot.
“He’s a warrior and that’s no pun intended, but there’s no other way to describe him. He’s going to give everything he got every time he steps on the floor and even some things he don’t have, which is his health.
“He was going to try to give it more. That’s just who he is. That’s why we love him.”
Thompson’s injury was almost the last straw for a club that has made finals runs five years in a row.
“Injuries are always part of the NBA season. It’s just the severity of these injuries,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“What matters is Kevin Durant is going to miss next season with an Achilles tear and Klay suffered a knee injury. It’s just brutal what these guys are dealing with right now.”
Losing both could cause major changes in the free agent market. But for Kerr, it was just cruel injury one upon another.
“When Klay goes down and is out for the game, it’s just sort of ‘You got to be kidding me, this has to stop.’ But it’s just the way it has gone,” Kerr said.
“I don’t know if it’s related to five straight seasons of playing 100-plus games and just all the wear and tear, but it’s devastating.”
© Agence France-Presse