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Warriors vs Hawks Preview: No #1 seed? NO PROBLEM

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Stephen Curry is scheduled to return Friday to face the team he hurt his ankle against earlier this month.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (53-18) vs. Atlanta Hawks (21-50)

When: 7:30pm PST - Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

How to watch: NBCSBA

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Really Awesome Blog Buddy: Peach Tree Hoops

Injury Report

Warriors:

Hawks: Kent Bazemore (bruised knee), out, Malcolm Delaney (ankle) questionable, Deandre Beambry (abdomen), questionable.

Remember this?

This unsettling moment occurred about three weeks ago during the Golden State Warriors fifth straight win after the All-Star break. Curiously, it seemed to hardly bother Stephen Curry at the time. Curry, also known as “Unanimous the Beloved,” ripped off 28 points in 24 minutes that game. His offensive dominance could only be held back by head coach Steve Kerr, who decided to bench Curry as a precautionary measure in light of the former MVP’s unnerving history of ankle problems.

Since then, the injury bug has stricken the rest of the squad, including the other reigning three All-Stars on the team. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant have all missed recent games to tend to their minor afflictions. I use the word “minor” intentionally, knowing full well that if my ribs were sore, or my thumb fractured, or my pelvis “contused,“ I wouldn’t even feel well enough to blog about basketball...let alone play it at the highest levels.

Yet, one must only take a quick glance at GSoM’s season-long injury tracking project to realize that the champions are fortunate that their ailments aren’t far worse. Thompson, the “Android Sniper,” is possible to return as early as Sunday.

Green didn’t even think he would miss any time before the coaching staff made the careful choice to sit him out for the Atlanta tilt.

Clearly, the Warriors have shifted into the delicate balance of recharging their bodies while focusing mentally on the impending challenge of playoff basketball. Curry’s return from injury should lift a Warriors offense that was stuck in the mud in recent losses to the Kings and Spurs.

Golden State is feeding off of doubt

For the folks wondering what the impetus for a dramatic change between the regular season and playoffs is for Golden State, I would have one word in response: motivation.

Forget not, the last three finals trips have been marked by the undeniable presence of Jupiter-sized chips on the Warriors shoulders. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane:

2014-2015

“Jump shooting teams are soft and can’t win championships/They ain’t that good.” The Dubs detractors clung to this mantra the entire season, led by Charles Barkley’s hateration and a foolish James Harden quote. Golden State completely destroyed Harden in the playoffs, won the NBA title, and immediately sent the Chuckster a t-shirt reminding him of his blasphemy.

2015-2016

“They got lucky”. This was the season NBA fans, players, coaches, and former legends banded together to passive aggressively throw shade on the new champs in Oakland. It also led to this great Curry interview.

The vengeful Dubs absorbed all the doubt yet again and nearly killed themselves in their furious terrorizing of the league that season. They unleashed the greatest regular season in NBA history, the 73 win year, but ultimately ran out of gas in the Finals, blowing a 3-1 lead.

2016-2017

Super Villains and Cupcakes.” The Warriors added another former MVP in Durant, and the backlash was astronomic.

The Warriors galvanized through all of the raging noise and nearly went undefeated throughout the entire playoffs. Second title in three years: acquired.

2017-2018

“OMG DA ROCKETS ARE DA BEST?!” This season, the Warriors have suffered from large spells of admitted disinterest in between historically dominant performances. In this time, everybody wants to talk about the new-look Houston Rockets, who hold the best record in the game and won the season series against the champs.

Lol.

I’m not even gonna deep-dive into this yet; there’ll be plenty of time for that in the playoffs. But are you starting to see the pattern? The Warriors get doubted; then the Warriors annihilate with righteous fury.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers
Go ahead and tell them that they can’t beat Houston
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t a new phenomena either. Many great players have been documented for using their doubters and detractors in order to go supernova. If they couldn’t find enough ammunition, they would even manufacture a slight to get them motivated.

The Warriors are no different. The desire to completely crush the regular season for the #1 seed clearly wasn’t enough of a catalyst for these “been there, done that” champions. But, doubting whether they can repeat? #fueltothefire

Did we all forget Curry’s “Make That Old” commercial campaign in reference to the skeptics? Clearly, these guys are well aware of the cacophonous sound of unbelief that is pumped their way. No wonder Unanimous rocked a “MADE THAT OLD” shirt as he clutched the trophy domineeringly at the championship parade last summer.

Gold-blooded Prediction: Now that we’ve taken a look at the big picture, let’s zoom in on the Hawks game tonight. Atlanta is tanking, and they’ll be missing former Dubs fan favorite Kent Bazemore for this contest. Even still, the Warriors barely defeated them in their last matchup earlier this month. Hmmm, I think Curry might see this game as an opportunity to silence some of the folks who doubt his ankle health.

Warriors 105, Hawks 96.

WELCOME BACK STEPH!!!!!