OAKLAND (California) • The Golden State Warriors limped to the finish line in their National Basketball Association Western Conference semi-final series on Wednesday.
Hitting the tape first made them feel good - and getting at least four days off before playing again made them feel even better.
Stephen Curry, who was honoured with his second consecutive league Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, hit a three-pointer with 24.9sec remaining as the Warriors held off the Portland Trail Blazers 125-121 to win the series 4-1.
"That might be the closest five-game series of all time," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said, after watching his team record three narrow victories and survive despite minor injuries to Curry (sprained right-knee ligament), Draymond Green (sprained left ankle) and Andrew Bogut (strained left adductor muscle).
"A break is great. A lot of our guys need it to recover. I'm just excited to get to the next round."
The Warriors will await the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder-San Antonio Spurs clash. Should the Thunder eliminate the Spurs in Game 6 this morning (Singapore time), the best-of-seven conference finals would begin on Monday night in Oakland.
"It felt like we were running on fumes a little bit at the end," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We talk about our depth all the time. We rely on it. A lot of people really played well."
The fifth-seeded Trail Blazers gave the top-seeded Warriors a battle in Game 5, leading early by as many as 11 points and hanging within 118-116 inside the final 50sec of the game.
However, Thompson harassed Portland star Damian Lillard into a miss, and Curry, freeing himself above the top of the key, nailed the back-breaking three-pointer that put Golden State up 121-116.
He then capped a 29-point night with four free throws in the final 18.2sec.
"We knew it would be a dog-fight every game," he said. "We had to grind it out."
Thompson led the Warriors with 33 points, hitting 13-of-17 from the field and six-of-nine three-point attempts.
He was also the driving force defensively on Lillard, who was harassed into seven-for-24 shooting on a 28-point night.
"I'm proud of my focus," Thompson said of his two-way effort. "I'm able to do that only if I'm focused, and I thought in these play-offs I've been focused."
The Warriors beat the Trail Blazers for the seventh straight time at home.
"We should be proud of the way we pushed them," said Lillard, an Oakland native who complemented his 28 points with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
"It could have easily been a seven-game series if the ball had gone this way instead of that way in a couple of the games.
"But you have to give them credit. They did what championship teams do."
Despite the series defeat for the Trail Blazers, it was still a satisfying finish to a season that began with just one returning starter - Lillard.
"This was a remarkable season," coach Terry Stotts said.
"I give credit to Golden State. They know how to close out games. Obviously, they're the better team.
"I don't walk away from this thinking we should have won the series or we should have won those (three close games). Going forward, we'll learn from that."