Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes celebrated his 24th birthday last night by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96-88, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and advancing to his second consecutive NBA Finals. Barnes joined The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday and admitted that early on in Game 7, he thought this birthday would become memorable for the wrong reasons.
“It was for a few minutes there it was on pace to be one of the worst birthdays ever,” Barnes laughed about his team trailing for nearly the entire first half. “But to be able to celebrate my birthday with my teammates, to be able to win that game after being down 3-1 [in the series], I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Barnes talked about his team’s mindset after they fell behind 3-1 and had just been blown out for the second consecutive game in Oklahoma City.
“I have to give this team credit. We have the faith of a mustard seed man,” Barnes said. “It was literally the 15 guys in the locker room that believed that we can still win this series if we band together, take it day by day, and just try to take it one game at a time. So Game 5 was huge for us, being able to get that win at home to be able to get our mojo back and to feel like ourselves and then Game 6 was the hardest game that I think any of us have ever played in.”
In that Game 6, Barnes’ teammate Klay Thompson put together one of the all-time great playoff performances as he willed his team to a 108-101 win by hitting 11 three-pointers.
“That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Barnes said. “I mean this dude caught it, step over half court, couple steps over half court, feet were split apart, not even looking at the rim, pause for one second, and then just heat checks from the hip nothing but net. He was in a zone that very few people have ever been in, let alone seen, and it was just impressive to be his teammate in that moment.”
Before last night’s Game 7, Barnes, who had started every single postseason game for the Warriors, was informed Andre Iguodala would start in his place, but the small forward claims it didn’t faze him.
“Everyone has had to sacrifice, not only this year but last year during our championship run, and whether that means you are giving up a starting spot, whether that means you’re giving up minutes, shots, whatever it may be. That’s what you have to do to win,” Barnes said. “There’s no greater feeling than being able to advance to the Finals and to be able to play for another championship. So being able to sacrifice like that, you don’t take it as a personal shot to your game or confidence. You take it more as you need to do whatever you need to do to get this win.”
For the second consecutive NBA Finals, the Warriors will face the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Barnes said this year’s journey to the sport’s greatest stage has been very different from last season’s.
“Last year, it was more of the Cinderella story. Everything we were doing, every step of the way was a new journey new experience,” Barnes said. “This year was more of the expectation. Expectation to go out and get 73 wins, expectation to get back to the Finals again, and especially being down 3-1, that expectation of if you lose, the whole season was for nothing. So it took us a lot to get to this point this year.”