The Golden State Warriors went to the NBA Final five-straight times from 2015 until 2019, a streak that hadn’t happened since the Boston Celtics did it 10 times in a row between 1957 to 1966. They’ve had their trials and tribulations since then after losing Klay Thompson to a long-term injury, watching Kevin Durant, who also hurt himself in the 2019 Finals. They then finished at the bottom of the league 2020 while getting kicked out of the play-ins in 2021.
But this year, they finally had their original homegrown star trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green ready to play together in the postseason, and they’ve done their job well and have now bought themselves another chance to win a title together as they begin to approach the tail-end of their careers. Curry will turn 35 by the time the next playoffs roll around, while Thompson and Green will be 33 – which means they’ve still got a few years to play at an elite level together, but it’s not easy to make the Finals.
That’s why this chance to win their fourth ring is so important. They’re going to get to do it again while still being the faces of the team, and if they win this year, no one’s going to be able to talk about how they acquired a cheat code in Durant, who was NBA Finals MVP in 2017 and 2018 after joining the Warriors on a year where the salary cap changed by a freak amount.
As a Sacramento Kings fan who’s suffered for the last 16 years, I admit I’m jealous of Golden State’s success, because they used to be on the NBA doldrums like us. However, I truly admire how the front office managed to build their strong core through the draft, one that is still together today and has been re-upped with young potential stars. They’ve already got an heir apparent to Curry in Jordan Poole, and Jonathan Kuminga has shown flashes of great potential. They’ve even gotten the most out of Andrew Wiggins, who has shown in these playoffs that he actually can be a difference maker when put in a good team even after all of the doubt everyone, including me, threw at him when they traded for him.
Naysayers may say things like the Warriors had some good fortune to make this year’s Finals, considering that they faced a depleted Denver Nuggets, saw Ja Morant go down after Game 3 of the second round, and then faced the Mavericks, a team that didn’t have the size to bother them.
Well allow me to retort. The only thing I could probably agree with there is that the Nuggets never had a chance. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are an excellent team without Morant, and went 20-5 without him in the regular season. That’s a winning percentage of 80%. In that second round series, the Warriors escaped with a close on in Game 1, and then saw Morant take over in Game 2, before winning by 30 in Game 3. Then, with Morant missing, the Warriors escaped with a 101-98 victory in Game 4 after trailing for 47 minutes, and then suffered their most embarrassing loss of the Curry era with a 39-point defeat in Game 5 – a game where they trailed for as much as 55 points. They then answered with a big win in Game 6 after suddenly turning on the jets in the final eight minutes in what was a tough game. That’s right, the Grizzlies had identical 1-2 records with and without Morant in that series, and were still an extremely dangerous team. They’re potential future NBA champions.
People will also say that the Dallas Mavericks were a much easier matchup in the Western Conference Finals compared to the Phoenix Suns, but it’s the Suns who blew a 2-0 series lead again and then put up who was, in my opinion, the most embarrassing Game 7 performance I’ve ever seen. Luka Doncic willed the Mavericks to a win in that series, and it’s not like he played badly against the Warriors. The Warriors had to overcome adversity in multiple games of the series, including coming back from a 14-point halftime deficit in Game 2. They also got their asses kicked in Game 4, with the final scoreline only being 119-110 because the Warriors outscored the Mavericks 39-20 in the fourth quarter.
To make the NBA Finals, you’ve got to win 12 games, and the Warriors did that with a combined effort that saw different big games from their stars to earn their chance at a ring. Unlikely heroes like Kevon Looney, who grabbed 22 rebounds in Game 6 (against Steven Adams) as they closed out the Grizzlies, and then scored a career-high 21 points along with 10 rebounds in their big Game 2 comeback against the Mavericks. Looney also grabbed 18 rebounds in Game 5 against the Mavericks.
Poole scored at least 23 points in seven of the 15 games that the Warriors have played so far, and shot at least 50% in all of those big performances – and the two of those guys have a lot of love for each other.
Klay Thompson, who battled through hell to get himself healthy enough to play in the NBA again, has also had four games where he’s scored 26 more points in this postseason run, including 32 points in the closeout Game 5 against Dallas. The joy he’s displaying in just being able to play basketball again is infectious.
Draymond Green has continued to do the little things that matter, from being one of their primary playmakers along with being their defensive coordinator on the floor. Of course, Curry still takes the bulk of the attention, and he’s scored 30 or more points seven times this postseason, and scored 20 or more 12 times, including the time he splashed in 34 points in 23 minutes while coming off the bench in Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets.
Before the season began, people pointed to how the Warriors had never lost a series when Curry, Thompson and Green had started every game.
While Curry did come off the bench against the Nuggets, it’s clear that the three of them together are still one of the game’s most unstoppable forces. They’re now 18-0 in series where they’ve all started in every game, and have a chance to push that record to 19-0 while chasing their fourth ring. These guys aren’t going to be around forever, so let’s appreciate getting to watch them while they’re still elite.