The Warriors have been beset by injury after injury. Sure, they’re locked into the second seed, and sure they’ve probably slow-played getting Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and everyone else back on the court, but it’s a dangerous time to go 6-4 in your last ten games, regardless of who is on the court and regardless of where you sit in the standings.
The prevailing thought around the league — and the thought I tend to subscribe to as well — is that the Warriors are fine. They’re juuuuust fine. Everything is going to be fine. They didn’t want the first overall seed. They’re not afraid of the Rockets. Or the Jazz. Or the Spurs (who might suddenly be convincing Kawhi Leonard to return). Or any other team in the West. They have four of the top ten players in the league on the same team and they’re gonna be fiiiiiiiine once all those dudes are back on the court.
But it’s not that simple.
The NBA season is long. There are enough nooks and crannies in the schedule that a field mouse could hide for months in the cracks and never be found. The Warriors know who they are. They are world champs. They have Steph and Durant. They have Klay and Draymond. But throughout the whole season, I’ve gotten the sense that the team has basically thought, “Ahhhh, F— it. This is going to be really, really hard. We all knew this was going to be really, really hard. If Steph misses a bunch of games, it’s better to be cautious. If Klay has a hairline fracture, it’s better to be cautious. It doesn’t matter, we’ll be fine. Again, we knew this was going to be really, really hard and so we are affording ourselves the luxury of relaxing, if only ever so slightly.”
Which, again, is the right decision.
We all lived through the 73-9 heartbreak of a firestorm. I’d much rather these guys get rested now, getting their minds and bodies right and gearing up for another deep playoff run. Imagine if the Warriors had tried to make a push for the first overall seed, only to run out of gas near the end, come up against a Spurs team with a fresh, healthy, just-returned Kawhi Leonard, and get bounced in the first round?? That would be waaaay worse than 73-9 and losing in Game 7 of the Finals.
But here’s my biggest fear: Every single other team in the league is on a bloodlust hunt to dethrone the Warriors. Every single other team in the league looks at Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green and thinks, “F— those dudes. We are gonna be the ones to take them down.” Can the Warriors suddenly flip a switch and rise to the level needed to fend off such vicious attacks? Can they become mean, ornery, and vicious in their own right?
I mean, can they even recover from all these injuries?? Let’s start there, I guess.
First step: Curry is theoretically back tomorrow, Friday. It’s time for this team to grease up the wheels, huff some special juice, and jump back in the fray. The playoffs are almost here, the world is hungry, and the league is jumping at the chance to dethrone the best team on the planet.
It’s gonna be a heck of a few months.