After winning three NBA Titles in the last four years, it is safe to refer to the Golden State Warriors as a dynasty. The Warriors faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth consecutive year in the NBA Finals, and this year’s edition of their meeting would see Golden State become just the fifth team since 1975 to record a sweep in the finals. It’s not a shock that Warriors were able to defeat the Cavaliers, nor is it shock that they were able to record a sweep as this team was paced by a quartet of All-Stars which includes point guard Steph Curry and small forward Kevin Durant, while the Cavaliers solely relied on the talents of small forward LeBron James. This past season was first time over the last four years that the Warriors were unable to win at least 60 games during the regular season, nor were they able to finish with the best record in the Western Conference, but their championship meddle shone the brightest when it was most needed which was in the NBA Playoffs.
In winning three titles in the last four years which includes making four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors have plenty of mileage on their legs. At times the Warriors kept it in third gear during the regular season as opposed to going full throttle this past year, while they also took each team’s best shot as they had their eyes on the ultimate goal which is to be the last team standing.
After going 58-24 in the regular season, Golden State would enter the NBA Playoffs with the second best record in the Western Conference. In the first round the Warriors would meet the San Antonio Spurs. And just like in last year’s Western Conference Finals when these two teams faced off, it was the Warriors who would secure the easy victory since San Antonio once again didn’t have the services of small forward Kawhi Leonard.
The second round would see the Warriors tango with the upstart New Orleans Pelicans who in spite of not having a healthy DeMarcus Cousins at center, were still looked at as a team that could give Golden State some problems. However the Warriors were able to take the Pelicans out of their game, dictate the pace, neutralize All-Star power forward Anthony Davis, and before you knew it, Golden State had taken care of them in five games just like they did the Spurs in round one.
But as expected the Western Conference Finals would be a meeting of the titans as the Warriors were set to face the Houston Rockets. Of all of the teams this past season, the Rockets were probably the best equipped to take down Golden State in a seven-game series due to their ability to consistently hit the three-point shot.
The series would live up to the hype as the Warriors would steal home-court advantage with their 119-106 victory in Game 1. And although that the Rockets were able to respond at home in Game 2 with a 127-105 victory, the Warriors appeared ready to deliver a knockout blow at home in Game 3 with a 126-85 win which included Curry exploding for 35 points. However the Rockets would prove to be resilient as they responded with a 95-92 win in Game 4 which was followed by a 98-94 victory at home in Game 5.
But the series would turn immediately following that win as the Rockets would not have the services of All-Star point guard Chris Paul for Game 6 due to a hamstring injury. Golden State would take advantage of that as they easily won at home 115-86 to force Game 7 in Houston. And when it was revealed that Paul’s troublesome hamstring would prevent him from playing in Game 7, it was the opening that Golden State needed as they took advantage of his absence to win 101-92 and once again advance to the NBA Finals.
The finals would be a supreme mismatch as not even the herculean efforts of James could slow down the Warriors. And after the Cavaliers squandered their chance of stealing Game 1 on the road due to the lack of awareness by shooting guard J.R. Smith, the Warriors moved in for the kill.
After they needed to go to overtime in order to win Game 1, the Warriors were a methodical machine for the rest of the series as they simply removed Cleveland’s will from the equation. Like last year the Cavs never had anyone who could stop Durant, while Curry put on a shooting exhibition which included him making 9, three-point shots in Game 2. And by Game 4, everyone including the Cavaliers knew that it was time to break out the champagne in order to once again acknowledge the Warriors as NBA Champions.
This Warriors team was able to lay in the weeds as throughout the season, their opponents were solely focused on beating team, while they were only focused on winning another title. Golden State accomplished this by being one of the most unselfish teams in the NBA as even though that they are a team of stars, everyone checked their respective ego at the door for the greater good of the team. And if there is anyone who is tired of seeing the Warriors play on into June, get used to it because they are not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Durant can opt-out of his contract this summer in order to become a free agent. And although that Durant could go to any team that he wants, he is very happy in the Bay Area as it is all about winning. Aside from Durant, the Warriors other three members of their “core four” which includes Curry, power forward Draymond Green, and shooting guard Klay Thompson are all under contract at least through next season. It’s already been proven that veteran players such as power forward David West and shooting guard Nick Young have been willing to take less money in order to be a part of the success which is taking place in Northern California as re-tooling this team in the off-season will not be a problem.
So now it’s time for another round of teams attempting to reshape their roster in order to get past the Warriors in the playoffs which has been easier said than done. After making the playoffs in four straight years with the Cavaliers, James is more than likely going to opt-out of his contract this summer in order to join a team that’ll give him a legit chance of getting past Golden State, while teams such as the Spurs, Rockets, and Boston Celtics will be doing everything that they can do in order to slay the dragon that calls Oakland home.
After going 40 years without winning an NBA Title, the Warriors have now won three in the last four years to bring the franchise’s overall total to six which dates back to their days in Philadelphia. And now only the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have won more NBA Championships than the Dubs.
But it’s all about the culture within the Warriors organization which began to change when the team was purchased by co-owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob in 2010. This duo has done its part in order to put the right people in the right spots; especially general manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr. It’s one thing to have a team with four All-Stars, but it is also something else to get somebody all on the same page, while listening to their head coach which is something that should not be overlooked about this group of Warriors.
Winning is contagious everywhere, but in especially in Northern California where the sports fans there were able to see the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball win three consecutive World Series Championships during the 1970’s, the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League win five Super Bowl Titles over a 14-year span, and MLB’s San Francisco Giants win three World Series Titles in a five-year span during this decade. Now it’s time for the folks in the Bay Area to revel at another dominant organization as these Warriors don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.