By Deke Lloyd
The Golden State Warriors have been the premier franchise of the NBA since 2015. They have won two championships, won multiple MVPs (Steph Curry), and set NBA records. They’ve done it all, but they still want more, as in the NBA title again this year. This time will be their second run the Warriors are going for back to back title, the first time was snatched from their grasps last minute by the Cavs, and if the Cavs didn’t win that championship, the Warriors would be going for an unprecedented 4th NBA title. This team is already arguably the best basketball team of all time. But are we starting to see the cracks in the foundation?
The turnaround didn’t start when Steph Curry walked in those doors, in 2009. The Warriors were still in rebuild mode, and known as a perennial lottery team. Ankle injuries plagued Steph early in his career, and it didn’t seem like he was going to become a star in the NBA. But Steph was determined, and with the help of the forward thinking Golden State front office and training staff, trained Steph to move, run, and play the game different so there wasn’t as much strain on his ankles. Steph started to stay healthy, and became more of a leader. With the additions of players like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors looked like a team on the rise.
The 2014 NBA playoffs matched up the young Warriors against the older, stronger Los Angeles Clippers, in the first round. The Clippers were one of the team’s picked by experts and pundits to win the title that year, and the Warriors were just a team that had a bright future. The Clippers won the series in 7 games, but the games were highly competitive and it was obvious the Warriors would have their time soon enough. Fast forward another year to the 2015 playoffs.
Golden State finishes with the best record in the West, but still slotted behind teams like San Antonio and Los Angeles. Golden State ran through the NBA Playoffs beating every team that was in their path on the way to their first NBA title since 1975. The Golden State dynasty had begun. The Warriors would lose the NBA title next year to the Cavs, but that was a minor blip in their dynasty run. Golden State responded after the devastating loss by adding, arguably, the best player in the NBA, Kevin Durant.
The Kevin Durant addition solidified the Warriors top spot in the NBA for Golden State, and the next year, they added another NBA title to their resume. With the young core of Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green all on the team and not leaving anytime soon, this team looked unstoppable for years to come. There wasn’t a team in the NBA that could matchup with what the Warriors had. The only thing that seemed like a possible roadblock was poor health. The Warriors are not only talented, but incredibly fortune for the good health the team has had. Good health is as much luck as it is good conditioning and training staff. It seems like this might be the year the fortunes are starting to turn.
It’s getting late in the 2017-2018 NBA season, and the playoffs are looming. The Golden State Warriors are going to make the playoffs but there team hasn’t been its normal self so far this year. That can be attributed to a few things: fatigue, lack of motivation, or other teams getting better, but that most obvious aliment has been the injuries to key contributors this season.
The “Big 4” of Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green have all been sidelined for significant time this year, and that team has suffered for it. Curry’s ankle are giving him trouble, Thompson has broken his thumb, Durant is struggling with an abdominal injury, and Green has been nursing a groin injury. Most of these injuries have been spread out, and there hasn’t been much overlap, but as the season goes on later and the players keep falling.
Are the Warriors still the favorite to win the title? Probably. They’re still the team to beat, and not being at full strength might not stop the Warriors from winning it the title. Steve Kerr, Golden State’s head coach, is going to have to give his team time to heal up for another deep run in the playoffs. This will the fourth year that the Warriors will be competing for the NBA title, and that is a lot of miles of all these players’ legs. Kerr is a master coach, and is very good at spacing out minutes to ease his star players back into the lineup.
The Warriors should be able to cruise through the first few rounds. That will give players like Curry, Thompson, and Green to heal enough to show up when the games will get tougher. Golden State is more than just the “Big 4”. This is a deep team made up of veterans that know what needs to be done. With the leadership of Kerr and the core players, Golden State will be looking for their second title in as many years.
It’s probably a little too early for the “Is It Over For The Warriors” article, but these injuries are starting to pile up. It’s starting to be worrisome for the Bay Area fans that have become so accustomed to winning NBA titles on a yearly basis. It’s fun to appreciate greatness when it’s happening in front of our faces, but sad to think that it has to come to an end, eventually. The Warriors will be in the thick of the title run this year so don’t look for their championship pedigree to come crashing down yet. But it is coming soon, and this year has been a preview of that. Let’s try to enjoy it while it lasts.
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