OAKLAND, Calif. — As the confetti fell to the hardwood in celebration of the Golden State Warriors’ third straight season of at least 67 or more wins, back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry took to center court to deliver a quick message to the Oracle faithful.
“You guys make this a true home court advantage for us and we’re going to need that energy during this playoff run,” Curry said to the fans who stuck around rather than cut out early in hopes of beating traffic. “It’s going to be a fun two-and-a-half months.”
The entire 2016-17 campaign has been focused around a “championship or bust” mentality. And even though the playoffs are finally here, the next two months will be a climatic build up to June when Curry and the Warriors expect to be competing for their second NBA championship in three seasons.
Golden State averaged 125 points per game and swept their first round opponent, Portland, in four regular season contests. The Warriors stamped an exclamation mark on the Blazers’ forehead in December by way of a 45-point drubbing — Portland’s worst loss to Golden State in the teams’ long-series history.
But that’s the regular season, right? Those games don’t matter because when the playoffs come around the game slows down and there is less running and gunning. That may have been the case when the game was more physical in the pre-three-ball-revolution era. But the times are quickly changing.
“So many more teams are playing fast now that teams aren’t changing their style when they go into the post season,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, before the final regular season game against Los Angeles on Wednesday. “What happens in the playoffs is that everyone starts grabbing and holding, so as a team you have to adapt to the more physical play.”
Kerr joked about what an incredibly difficult job it is to officiate playoff games because if refs were to call everything that they saw, the game itself would never actually take place.
This is one of the main reasons why the Warriors sought Kevin Durant. Come playoff time, teams will do anything they can to gain an advantage over their opponents. This comes in many forms, including small things like holding and grabbing at times. Other times, teams use more unconventional tactics like leaving back sweat on the floor for someone to slip on or intentionally disrespecting someone by stepping over them as they lay on the court.
Regardless, Durant gives the Warriors pure brute strength in the playoffs. The more teams choose to hold Curry, the more Durant will be open. The more they focus on Durant, the better looks Klay Thompson will receive. The more worried teams are about closing in on Thompson’s three-point shot, the more the lane opens for Draymond Green to drive and do his thing.
Sure, this Golden State squad is beatable, but that is only if something catastrophic happens. As far as I see it, there is no team in the league that can run with the Warriors when they are healthy and firing on all cylinders.
This team has been focused on the playoffs throughout the entire season, and the time has finally come for the Golden State Warriors to begin their path to redemption of their 2016 NBA Finals meltdown.
As Curry said, the next two-and-a-half months are going to be fun.