The Warriors have been among the NBA elite for five years now, and signs of wear and tear are becoming more and more evident.
The team is dropping more and more winnable games, often showing disinterest and lackadaisical play. The regular season is long, and the Warriors don’t have any goals other than winning the championship. They can’t begin that process until the playoffs start.
It wasn’t always this way. The first three years of the Warriors’ dynasty, the team brought the energy for every single regular season game. They had a deep bench that would pull through in times of need, stars that had something to prove, and a competitive drive few others could match. Somewhere along the way, something changed.
Part of it was the heartbreak of the 2016 Finals. After winning 73 games that season, the Warriors realized that basketball culture has a short memory regarding regular season achievements. Part of it is a thinner bench, which in recent years has aged and become less effective. The Warriors are relying on their stars more than ever.
The team had similar letdowns last year, but injuries were a big part of their slumps. Quinn Cook was their best shotcreator in a handful of games last season. This year, the full-strength Warriors are dropping games they should be winning. On top of it all, locker room drama is at an all-time high. It hasn’t affected their on-court production, but Kevin Durant’s possible departure and Draymond Green’s outbursts have already caused the team some unwanted attention.
But this is still the Warriors team we’re used to. The stars are still among the game’s best, and they still fit each other’s games perfectly. And ultimately, I trust them to pull it together once the playoffs begin. Maybe they won’t be as great as they were in seasons past, but they’re still a step ahead of the competition. There probably won’t be as good as an opponent this year than last year’s Rockets.
This could also be the last year of the Warriors’ dynasty. If Kevin Durant decides to leave, the Warriors won’t really be able to replace him. The three-peat is also at stake: winning three titles in a row is so rare and difficult, as we’re seeing right now. It’ll be the perfect way to bookend an era.
The Warriors have one job: win the championship and figure out the offseason from there. There’s nothing they can really do about that until the playoffs begin. I trust them to figure it out then, and the rest is just noise. And I’ll savor as much about this team as I can.