As this long, drawn-out season comes down to it’s final couple of games and with the Golden State Warriors already locking down a playoff spot, they will turn their attention to post-season play. Despite a season full of bumps in the road, the Warriors remain the favorite to repeat as champions, which would be their third in a row and would make four out of the past five seasons. And with the return of Kevin Durant from his ankle injury, the Warriors seemed poised to be at full strength at the start of the playoffs.
However, this season has also shown that when the Warriors are at full strength is when they are most susceptible to be their own worst enemy. They will have games where it’s just not their night - Saturday’s poor showing against Dallas was evidence of this, given their abysmal 13.3 percent night from deep - and it will be easy to shake off, as both the players and coaches have indicated. But there will also be times where poor performances won’t be as excusable. As they make the final push to the playoffs, there are a few things that the Warriors need to remember.
- Take care of the ball
If there has been a constant downfall of the Warriors over the past few years, it has probably been that they need to take better care of the ball and not turn the ball over. The Warriors have done a lot better this season of taking care of the ball, going from 26th in the league in turnovers last season to 12th so far this season, and they are on track to turn the ball over 100 fewer times than last season. However, they need to continue the habit of taking care of the ball throughout the playoffs. Careless mistakes can easily amount, and better teams know how to take advantage of it. If the Warriors can limit the number of turnovers and, as a result, limit the number of opportunities for opponents, it puts that much more pressure on other teams to keep up with the team with the highest rating so far this season.
2. They need to play their game
It’s fine to call it cliche. But no other current team in the NBA can do what the Warriors are capable of doing. They are the most talented team in the league, and when they continually play at a high level, they are an avalanche that is impossible to stop. If the Warriors continue to execute their transition offense, move the ball and move off screen well, and lock down opponents through switching and help defense, every game becomes theirs for the taking. As a team that has “been there before,” they know what it takes to win and they know how to make it happen. It becomes a matter of execution.
3. They are a championship team
Plain and simple. The Warriors have won three out of the past four Finals for a reason - the playmaking ability and collective basketball IQ of their superstars is unmatched in this league. They have the same coaches that have brought them there in the past, and even the idea of approaching the playoffs as something other than the number one seed is familiar. They are capable of taking down other teams with multiple All-Stars and teams built for the primary reason of beating the Warriors. Other teams are capable of doing the same, but the Warriors have done this for a couple of years now, and they have the credentials to show that their way has worked. Until another team finds their own piece of championship strategy, the Warriors are favorites to repeat.