After three years of regular season excellence and three straight Finals appearances, the Golden State Warriors took this regular season off.
They dealt with a bunch of injuries, rarely tried on defense, and looked out of sorts all year. There was just a little bit of concern that they wouldn’t be ready for the postseason
None of the Warriors’ injuries threatened their postseason success other than Stephen Curry’s MCL injury. The two-time MVP is the engine that drives their offense, and without him healthy, the Warriors probably can’t expect to win another championship.
In his absence, the Warriors brought their defense up to speed, putting the clamps on the San Antonio. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson found ways to score, and the Warriors finished off the Spurs with a gentleman’s sweep.
In Stephen Curry’s return on Tuesday, he was the sole bright spot in a lackadaisical offense, putting the team on his back with his shooting and playmaking. Unlike in 2016, when he also returned in the second round due to an MCL injury, he looked fully explosive, with full range of movement. Let’s hope that that stays true.
Steph’s return brings back the “old” Warriors: the fast pace, the lights-out shooting, and the joy. The best basketball team ever is back.
Having Kevin Durant to lead the team in Steph’s absence clearly gave the Warriors more time to rest Steph, and the leeway to manage his minutes carefully in the second round. I expect by the Western Conference Finals, this Warriors team will be in top gear.
There were many reasons to be a bit wary of the Warriors this regular season. And although the road to another championship looks more difficult this time around, the Warriors should be as good as ever. The Warriors are finally healthy and locked in, and what we’ve been waiting for is almost here.