Last year, the Warriors’ regular season was a slog: injuries and a lack of intensity and purpose robbed them of their joy and energy. After winning a championship in 2017, the team that saw their regular season achievements of 2015-2016 ridiculed saw little point in playing hard every game. The Warriors ended up winning the title, turning on the proverbial switch in the playoffs, but it was never “fun” until the Warriors beat the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
In 2018, the Warriors started with pace and energy, scoring at will. Part of this was because of the consolidated chemistry between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who have struggled at times to play off each other before. The supporting cast, led by Jonas Jerebko and Alfonso McKinnie, fit better with the stars than last year’s. The return of DeMarcus Cousins will give the team one more reason to play at their best. There is something different about their bounce, their spirit, and their theatricality—they play to put on a show for themselves and the crowds.
All this joy is happening despite an uncertain future ahead. There’s the distinct possibility that this year is Kevin Durant’s last as a Warrior. This, combined with injuries to Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Alfonso McKinnie broke the Warriors’ spirit in November. Back came the unwatchable offenses, the lackluster defensive intensity, and the losses.
But the team will hold together as long as they keep winning. And the most important part of that is simply staying healthy. Damian Jones’ injury notwithstanding, the Warriors got back Steph from injury earlier in the month, Draymond on Monday, and Boogie Cousins soon. With their collection of talent, the Warriors have no excuses for bad play with these stars available.
And of course, the Warriors and their fans trust Steph to hold the locker room together. As long as he’s playing, he brings instant glee and excitement with his offensive talents. Off the court, he’s a leader who can be trusted.
Since Steph’s return, the Warriors have rediscovered their rhythm. They’re looking once again like the most dominant dynasty in history. Their offensive firepower, shooting, and more unstructured, improvisational playstyle is truly a sight to behold.
With the storm behind them, the Warriors should be on track once again. Let’s accomplish this three-peat, then take whatever happens next as it does.