The Golden State Warriors are headed to the NBA finals for the first time in 40 years, after eliminating the Houston Rockets on Wednesday to set up a title showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Warriors, the best team in the regular season with 67 victories and 15 defeats, pulled away late to beat the Rockets 104-90 and seal a 4-1 series victory in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
They will battle Eastern Conference champions Cleveland, led by four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, in their first championship series since 1975 -- when the Warriors won their only title.
The Warriors host game one in Oakland on June 4.
Reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry, playing with a protective sleeve on his right arm after a frightening fall in game four, led the Warriors with 26 points.
Forward Harrison Barnes played a key role, helping Golden State break open a close contest with four straight baskets to cap an 11-2 scoring run that turned a six-point lead into an 87-72 Warriors advantage with 7:07 left to play.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets reacts in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. (AFP)
The Warriors defense harried Rockets star guard James Harden into a dismal two-for-11 shooting performance. He missed all three of his three-point attempts and finished with an NBA playoff-record 13 turnovers. Harden, who scored a critical 45 points as the Rockets fended off elimination in game four, finished with 14 points.