Kevin Durant is back. The Warriors are humming right along, having won 14 straight games. Stephen Curry, although he sat out the last game with a slight knee injury, is back to his MVP form. Most importantly, since resting against the Spurs, the team has looked sprightly, young, and in love with basketball. They’re basically the on-court version of a young romance, played out in springtime.
Ahh, to be alive at such a moment. Wait ... WE ARE!
Dope. This is so cool. I’m all in for this playoff run.
Of course, I’m about to engage in some revisionist history, but in retrospect, the Warriors seemed beat down heading into the playoffs last year. They had just endured one of the most brutal tests in NBA history, namely existing under a 24/7, social-media-driven microscope of doom and despair, while selling out every single away arena and rocketing to superstardom levels not seen since Michael Jordan’s Bulls days, while simultaneously chasing one of Jordan’s most hallowed records.
And, yes, they miraculously pulled it off. They won 73 games.
At the time, I was stoked. But there was just so, so much pressure. Pundits wondered if they could actually go 16-0 in the playoffs. People, myself included, assumed Stephen Curry would continue his alien-world-destroying ways and decimate the field. I assumed that at the end of the season, the NBA would be a smoking crater, and the Warriors would be getting drunk on yet another floating armada wandering slowly through downtown Oakland.
But Curry slipped, Draymond Green punched, kicked, got suspended, and the team fell just short. Somehow a 73 win season—with one of the all-time greatest Finals series in history—seemed like a colossal failure. The 3-1 jokes overran any semblance of celebration. The team became the butt of America’s jokes. Well, until the current administration came into power.
Would any of that have happened had they been more rested headed into the playoffs? Who knows. Maybe if Kerr had rested his players—and not chased 73—June (and then November) would have both turned out very differently. Dammit Kerr. [joking]
But now, with Durant back and healthy, the Warriors are primed more than ever before—even more than the 2015 championship run—to really wreak havoc in the playoffs. Sure, Durant is going to need to get back into the flow of the offense. Sure, he and Curry haven’t played together yet. But, you just get the feeling the team is clicking. They are hungry. All those 3-1 jokes are about to get crammed back down America’s throat, just like [REDACTED, BUT OH MAN IT WAS A GOOD JOKE].
Russell Westbrook’s crazy, history-book-breaking shot ensured that the Warriors will face the Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the 2017 NBA playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see how Portland stacks up against them, position by position (we’ll get there in a few days as the regular season winds down), but it’ll be even more interesting to see how the Warriors get back into rhythm with one another. Again, I’m not too worried about it.
Durant’s injury, as many others have noted, was potentially a blessing in disguise. His legs, recently healed, are fresh. He’s hungry. He WANTS IT. This is what he came here for. He came here for #ringz. Enough with the camaraderie, the laughs, the ball movement, and the not-having-to-deal-with-Westbrook-every-day. Now it’s time for action.
The Warriors are angry. You can feel it. You think they forgot all about your dumb 3-1 jokes? You think they don’t want to f’ing destroy the world? You think Durant doesn’t want that first championship? You think he doesn’t want to crush every single person who doubted him when he came to the the Bay? You think he doesn’t remember the talking heads on the soap box screaming into the sky like he’d just broken up all of their marriages?
The Warriors are hungry. They are angry. They might even be hangry, which is the most dangerous kind. Now? It’s time to EAT.