They’re too small.
They have no depth.
They rest too much.
Stephen Curry doesn’t show up in the playoffs.
They just aren’t as good this year.
Agree or disagree, much has been made about the “flaws” of the Golden State Warriors. But make no mistake, if their first round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers is any indication, the Warriors are out to prove there’s one thing they do have: a playoff gear.
The Warriors won each game of Round 1 a different way. From weathering a 75 point onslaught by the Trail Blazers’ dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in Game 1 and clawing their way back from a 17-point deficit in Game 3, to the blowout performance in Game 2, Golden State simply refused to allow Portland to make it a series.
This culminated in a 128 to 103 series clinching victory by Golden State that also happened to be one of the most dominant playoff performances ever. At halftime, the Warriors led the Trail Blazers 72-48, shooting 58.1% from the floor and 63.2% from three. They finished the game with nine blocks, bringing their series total to 41 blocks in just four games.
A common adage about Golden State is that they’re a regular season team. They play at a high level for 82 games, but while everyone else ups their performance in the playoffs, the Warriors stay the same — or so the argument goes.
This is a bit laughable given the fact that they won the championship in 2015 and were a few plays and a suspension away from winning back-to-back titles.
In any event, the sting of losing in last years Finals brought about a new perspective for a team that spent two years breaking as many records as possible. That perspective? Championship above all else.
Any emphasis on win records, scoring titles, MVP awards and All-Star appearances fell by the wayside, and every major decision by the franchise had to go through one filter: Will this help us win a championship?
The result: A well-rested and well-oiled team that handed Portland gut-punch loss after gut-punch loss, despite not having the services of Kevin Durant , Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes and coach Steve Kerr for parts of the series.
It’s clear that everyone is upping their games. Durant scored an easy 32 points in Game 1 and came back from injury in Game 4, immediately knocking down a three and throwing down a dunk. Curry averaged over 29 points per game in the first round, and doled out his fair share of dagger threes. And Draymond Green played like a man possessed, filling up the stat sheet and finishing as the best three-point shooter in a series featuring Curry, Durant, McCollum, Lillard and Klay Thompson.
Their reward for a sweep? More rest and recovery as they await the winner of the Utah Jazz versus Los Angeles Clippers series. More time to figure out Kerr’s medical situation. And the confidence that comes from a dominant win in the playoffs.
As the games go by, the Warriors will continue to hone their playoff gear for the Finals, and that is something to behold. Bring on Round 2.