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A brief history of the Warriors and being 1-1

For the eighth time in the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors find themselves tied two games into a playoff series.

Steph Curry and Steve Kerr standing on the sideline Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of their 24th playoff series since head coach Steve Kerr took over prior to the 2014-15 season. And while the precedent that should give you, a trusty Dubs fan, the most faith going forward is their record in the other 23 series — 21 wins and two losses — I want to focus on a different one.

The Warriors and Boston Celtics are tied 1-1 in the 2022 NBA Finals. It feels scary, partially because it has shifted home court advantage to New England, and partially because, in your heart of hearts, you feel like the Dubs should be up 2-0 because of the awful fourth-quarter collapse in Game 1.

But they’re not. They’re tied.

So let’s look at the historical precedent for that.

This is the eighth time in the dynastic era that the Warriors have split the first two games of a series, meaning it’s not rare at all: it’s happened in a third their matchups.

Let’s check out the other seven.

2015 Western Conference Semifinals

The opponent: Memphis Grizzlies
The initial games: Won the first game 108-86, lost the second game 97-90
Game 3: Lost 99-89
The series: Won 4-2

We all hope that the Warriors win Game 3 tonight. But if they don’t, you can take solace in the fact that they were in the same situation at the start of the dynasty, and won. They trailed the series 2-1. They were on the road for Game 4. You were panicking a little bit.

In many ways, that Memphis trip created the greatness. Draymond Green famously invited Steph Curry out to a bar in between Games 3 and 4, encouraging the freshly-minted superstar to shake it off. They won the next three games by a combined 50 points, and ended the run with a championship.

2015 NBA Finals

The opponent: Cleveland Cavaliers
The initial games: Won the first game 108-100, lost the second game 95-93
Game 3: Lost 96-91
The series: Won 4-2

Just two series later and the Warriors were back at it, on the road for Game 4 after falling behind 2-1. And again they flipped the dominance switch, winning the next three games by 46 points to kick the dynasty off in fashion.

Again: root like hell for a Game 3 win. But don’t think things are over if the Dubs lose.

2016 Western Conference Finals

The opponent: Oklahoma City Thunder
The initial games: Lost the first game 108-102, won the second game 118-91
Game 3: Lost 133-105
The series: Won 4-3

I’m starting to feel less and less confident about the Dubs winning tonight in Boston. But, if you’re using this historical precedent to feel less confident about Game 3, you should also be using it to feel quite confident about the series ... because we all know what happened against the Thunder.

2018 Western Conference Finals

The opponent: Houston Rockets
The initial games: Won the first game 119-106, lost the second game 127-105
Game 3: Won 126-85
The series: Won 4-3

Ahh, we’ve finally arrived at a fruitful Game 3. Do that, Dubs! Definitely do that!

2019 Western Conference First Round

The opponent: Los Angeles Clippers
The initial games: Won the first game 121-104, lost the second game 135-131
Game 3: Won 132-105
The series: Won 4-2

Another series in which they lost one of the first two games, despite having home court advantage, yet went on to win handily.

I like to refer to this series as the time Kevin Durant went absolutely ballistic. That was a fun time. I’m all for one of the Dubs having a 50-piece in the closeout game vs. Boston.

Just saying ...

2019 NBA Finals

The opponent: Toronto Raptors
The initial games: Lost the first game 118-109, won the second game 109-104
Game 3: Lost 123-109
The series: Lost 4-2

And now we arrive at the only one of the seven previous 1-1 series that the Warriors have gone on to lose.

So, again, if we’re just looking for historical precedent here ... the Warriors should be fine, as long as two of their star players don’t suffer catastrophic lower-body injuries.

Please don’t.

2022 Western Conference Semifinals

The opponent: Memphis Grizzlies
The initial games: Won the first game 117-116, lost the second game 106-101
Game 3: Won 142-112
The series: Won 4-2

I’m not sure about you, but I would be totally OK with the Warriors winning Game 3 by 30 points.

Admittedly Game 3 vs. Memphis was at home, whereas it’s on the road against the Celtics, but hey. Who cares.

Win by 30.

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