This is really how it works “at the top of things”.
On the verge of falling in a 2-0 hole heading back to Oakland, the Golden State Warriors needed to win Game 2. Stephen Curry battled through dehydration, Klay Thompson went down with a hamstring strain late in the game, and Kevon Looney left the game with a chest contusion. Not to mention Demarcus Cousins, in his second game back from a calf injury ran the risk of re-injuring himself as he played 20 plus minutes . The Raptors keep that same energy from game one and jumped out to double-digit leads in the first half.
None of it mattered. The Warriors battled through their maladies and peeled off an 18-0 run early in the third quarter and held a 12 point lead of their own until Toronto made a run and held the Warriors scoreless for most of the last five minutes of the game until Andre Iguodala’s game clinching three.
Nothing about this game was pretty. It even feels insulting to call what I saw a game. This was a battle of attrition. A battle that the Warriors needed to win and they dug into their mettle and might, and won.
When you’ve been on a five year run like these Warriors squads, you do not only build chemistry, you also build endurance and mental toughness. We as fans only see the flash, the highlights, and the results but what we don’t see are the intangibles, the mental aspect of the game. These intangibles and having the will to overcome the opposition, sometimes self-inflicted mistakes and even infirmaries more often than not make a team champions.
Last night, the Warriors proved how much mental, intestinal, and cardiac fortitude they had. Curry fought through a poor start and his dehydration and still managed to impact the game, not only with his scoring but also with the defensive attention he receives. The Raptors defense pulled out the box-and-one on him and done everything in their power to limit him. It wasn’t enough. Cousins pushed through and impacted the game with his stat line. When Thompson went down, everyone on that team stepped up whenever Toronto pushed back. The Raptors ultimately didn’t have an answer. Not in the 18-0 run nor in the closing moments of the game. Kyle Loverly foolishly fouled out and at times the Raptors struggled to score. If it wasn’t for Kawhi Leonard’s instincts to get to the line and his own big shots down the stretch, the Warriors would have won by double digits.
The box and one at the end of a was a solid strategy but the Raptors just couldn’t capitalize under the pressure of the moment regardless of how well they played otherwise.
The Golden State Warriors proved last night that they can “will what they want” whenever they want. Sometimes having the most talent can only take you but so far. This is what the Warriors know after five years of chasing rings and banners. The quest for a three peat isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard and sometimes will, desire and might will be all you have. Sometimes will, desire and might, can be all you need.