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Will Kevin Durant’s return disrupt the Warriors’ momentum?

Yes, this is a click-baity headline. But, yes, this is also a serious question I have.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since getting home from that head-scratcher of an eight game, cross-country stretch of games, the Warriors have been on fire. Over the last 13 days, they’ve gone 7-0, and if you throw out the strange Philadelphia Sixers game (first game back after the trip, where they eked out a 106-104 victory at home), they’ve won the games by an average of 20.33 points.

The team has finally re-established their identity around the overall brilliant wizardry of Stephen Curry, the outside shooting threat of Klay Thompson, and the do-it-all leadership of Draymond Green. If you were to throw in the exasperating inconstancy of Harrison Barnes and the twisted worldview of Andrew Bogut, this would basically be the same formula that the Warriors used last year en route to winning 73 games.

Curry finally looks like CURRY, in some ways for the first time all year. He’s dancing around. He’s hitting shots. The slump is a thing of the past. I mean, my word, look at this!

Listen to the broadcast, as Curry enters the danger zone.




I’m not sure where all those noises came from, but I feel you. That was nasty. Side note, I love how Matt Barnes has been playing lately. I know we all had our reservations — mostly for off-court reasons — but it’s really hard for me to watch him on this Warriors team and stay mad. I mean, you can tell how much he LOVES being on the court with Curry and Thompson. Look at that strange, gallivanting, hippity-hop pass to Klay for the wide open shot! The play starts with Curry going full warlock mode, has a brief middle section where Matt Barnes skips to his own loo, and ends with a picture perfect jumper from Thompson.

A symphony in motion. A joy to behold. A lark, a dream, a whooshing sense of elation.

As excited as we all are when we see videos like this, the question remains: How long will it take to successfully re-integrate Kevin Durant back into the lineup once he is healthy? We saw how limited Curry was last season as he tried to work his way back from injury. Sure, that was different, and sure he missed less time. But, the point remains: coming off a scary injury, finding your way forward in the middle of a playoff series is a very difficult thing. Even for a player like Kevin Durant.

I really don’t mean to poke the fire (skiddle the diddle? Mash the bash? What’s the right phrase here?), but the fact remains that it will be very difficult for Durant to regain his MVP caliber form right away. A deeper fact is that the Warriors have been playing some of their best, most joyful basketball of the season these past few weeks. They remembered: Oh yeah, we have that Steph Curry guy on the team. Maybe we should just give him the ball and see what happens.

Early in the season, the Warriors weren’t quite sharing and moving the ball in the same manner as they had last year. Curry seemed, well, almost human for once (as opposed to playing like a mythological creature wearing a Steph Curry costume). Klay wasn’t getting as many touches. Durant and Green got into it a couple times, arguing about mistakes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court.

I’m not saying — I REALLY, IN NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM AM SAYING — that the Warriors are better off with Durant on the bench.

But ...

But, you can’t argue that they’ve recently looked more like the Warriors of old (not old, old, I’m not talking Cohan era, I’m talking last season and the season before that) for the first time this year. I guess my question is: How will it look when Durant comes back? Will Curry defer to him, much in the same way he did at the beginning of the season? Or will Curry decide to stay aggressive? Continue to dance around his opponents? And will Durant feel comfortable letting the two-time MVP run the show until he’s fully back, fully healthy?

My guess: Yes.

I think Curry understands that the only way the Warriors win a championship this season is if he is the best, most important player not only on their own team, but on the court. Durant, with his very strong sense of self and lack of ego, will understand that his body is still somewhat compromised, and he’ll let Curry take control.

A red hot Curry is better for everyone. When he’s on fire, Klay gets his shots, Draymond gets to scream and dance around, and Durant will get the ball in optimal, spot-up positions. When Durant first joined the team, we jokingly dreamed about how much of a better spot-up, corner three shooter he’d be than Harrison Barnes. Well, now we actually might see a bit more of that type of action. Curry at the top of the key, pick and roll, find Durant in the corner. I’m assuming Kerr &co. won’t be running a recently-returned Durant around a bunch of tough screens, especially not at the beginning.

So, sorry for the click-baity headline, but it’s actually something I find myself thinking about the closer and closer we get to the playoffs and the closer and closer we get to a potential return from the league’s most unguardable player.


Will Durant’s return disrupt the Warriors’ momentum?

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    Shut the hell up, what a dumb question. You should stop writing. Heck, maybe even stop talking.
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