Four short years ago, the Warriors were the darlings of the NBA. We marveled at Steph Curry’s shots and Riley Curry’s interviews. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green created an unstoppable force that made up the other complementary components of the Big 3. Andre Iguodala won NBA Finals MVP. The Dubs even featured a Black Falcon who doubled as a Senator.
In their visit to the White House after their first championship, President Barack Hussein Obama, number 44, son of the South Side of Chicago, lauded the champions from the Golden State.
“They play not just well, but they play well together. They play as a team the way basketball is supposed to be played. And it’s beautiful to watch when they’re working on all cylinders.”
While many of us still agree with President Obama, times have changed in the eyes of the common fan. After their incredible inaugural championship run, the Warriors lost a heartbreaking Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Weeks later, on the fourth of July, Kevin Durant shocked the world and signed with the Warriors. The decision sent Warriors fans into elation and the rest of the league into a collective fury — a rage that one can only find in a half-empty political rally in West Virginia on a Friday night.
While the Dubs rediscovered their glory, things have never been the same. The Warriors beat the Cavs and won the Finals for the second time in three years in 2017. Kevin Durant took home Finals MVP and showed everyone why he belongs in the same conversation with LeBron James.
This season felt different. Watching the regular season at times felt like a chore as we awaited the playoffs. With largely underwhelming first half play, and inspired third quarters, the Warriors snuck passed the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. LeBron James dragged his team, who doubled as a pile of corpses, past the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
In an increasingly unpredictable world, there is beauty in repetition.
The style, players, and mindset that were once the darlings of hoops lovers from Beijing to the Brooklyn are a more complicated team to the throngs of fans who onced loved them. What remains true is that the Golden State Warriors are the champions of the world until they lose an NBA Finals. Nobody, not even in their blind rage, can take that away.
For the fourth year in a row, we will witness the best player of a generation battle the best team of a generation.
*cue Kendrick Lamar Finals intro*
Game 1 Details
WHAT: Warriors vs. Cavaliers, Game 1
WHEN: Thursday, May 31, 6:00 p.m. PST
WHERE: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
LISTEN: 95.7 the Game, ESPN Radio
Enemy Blog: Fear the Sword
Injuries: Andre Iguodala and Kevin Love
Warriors announce Andre Iguodala is out for at least Game 1, will be re-evaluated after.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 30, 2018
Andre Iguodala is injured and missed a large part of the Western Conference Finals. The Dubs clearly missed him. Iguodala is the second-best glue guy on the team, but remains an irreplaceable floor general for the Dubs in playoff situations. In a series against LeBron James, players like Iguodala are invaluable.
Iguodala takes pressure off of Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston on defense. Kerr can say, “Andre, make LeBron work for it,” and Iguodala can go out and solely focus on defending James. And while the Warriors appreciate his scoring contributions, Iguodala’s playmaking skills catalyze Curry, Thompson and Durant. He will be missed in Game 1, but it seems likely he will return for Game 2 or 3.
Steve Kerr said Iguodala's doing better today, "encouraging" signs, but is out for Game 1. Said KD, Klay, Livingston and Draymond will all get time on LeBron. pic.twitter.com/E3pJ2A1Zou— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 30, 2018
Kevin Love’s back luck continued when he was elbowed in the head by Jayson Tatum in the Eastern Conference Finals. His status for Game 1 is still TBD as he goes through the NBA’s concussion protocol. Love provides the Cavs with a solid second scoring option, and tough rebounder in the paint. Stay tuned on goldenstateofmind.com for more updates on Kevin Love. Hopefully he is okay.
New story: Kevin Love's status for Game 1 of the Finals remains unknown; Ty Lue says Love will start if he's cleared from the concussion protocol https://t.co/h68CIZblAr— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 31, 2018
Three Keys to Game 1
The first quarter: The Warriors were outscored by the Rockets in the first quarter in five out of seven games. Given how impressive the Warriors play in the second half, why not just wrap it up early? It’s Game 1 at Oracle. The better the Warriors play in the first quarter, the more likely it is that we’ll see Quinn Cook running point in the fourth quarter. This series will feel closer when it goes to Cleveland. The Dubs’ Gentrified Death Lineup will need fresh legs for those games.
Rebounding: I still have night terrors of Tristan Thompson snagging offensive rebounds over the Warriors as if they were garden gnomes in 2016. Kevin Durant, Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney, and company need to box out. The Warriors struggled with this against P.J. Tucker and the Rockets. Time to hunker down and grab the ball before hitting the fast break.
Kyle Korver vs. Klay Thompson: It’s disrespectful to Klay Thompson to be compared to Korver. That said, I have a theory that if Korver outscores Thompson, the Cavaliers win. If Thompson outscores Korver, the Warriors win. It might sound stupid, but what’s the fun of writing about basketball if you can’t lay down a hunch.
First and foremost, if the Cavs win the NBA Finals, Jeff Green will be the Finals MVP.
Game 1: Warriors 122- Cavs 96
I see Game 1 as a vintage Golden State shellacking. Kevin Love won’t be at his best and LeBron James is still recovering from playing 48 minutes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs have no reason to go all out in Game 1.
The Warriors want to prove that the Rockets series could have been shorter. Stephen Curry wants to remind fans he is still a top-5 NBA talent. Kevin Durant wants to remind fans that he can go toe to toe with LeBron James. Klay Thompson wants...I don’t know what Klay Thompson wants. And Draymond Green wants to remind us that he deserved Defensive Player of the Year.
One day, this dynasty will be over. Until then, enjoy the damn ride.
Series: Warriors win in 5 games
NBA Finals MVP: Our lord and savior, Wardell Stephen Curry II