When the Golden State Warriors lose, when they fall apart, they tend to do so in spectacular fashion. Throughout last year’s postseason, they were beaten to a pulp on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Each time they would claw back to make it some semblance of a game before collapsing into humiliating defeated. It coalesced into the greatest failure in NBA Finals history, 3 straight losses including two at home. Their prize? Kevin Durant. So when the coronation of their dynasty began on Tuesday night, everyone expected a blowout that signified the terror the rest of the world was about to witness. Instead, another ugly defeat.
Kawhi Leonard put on his best LeBron James Finals impersonation and battering-rammed the middle of the GSW defense into submission with 35 points and 15 free throws. Jonathon Simmons pulled off his best Danny Green impression with 20 points and lockdown wing defense. The San Antonio Spurs crushed the Zaza Pachulia-Draymond Green-Kevin Durant-David West to a pulp, obliterating them for 21 offensive rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge who struggles mightily against Draymond even backed him down for a fadeaway J and mean-mugged. Even David Lee ended up with a (+13) to add salt to the wound.
It’s one game. We have 81 to go just in the regular season.
Throughout the past two regular seasons, since Steve Kerr has taken over, the Warriors have come into the season humming at full force. They took the league by surprise with 67 wins and a championship with an elite defense then didn’t let up the season after with 73 record-breaking victories after. This time around, Kerr might be happier with the results despite the blowout. Walking to the press conference, Kerr started it off with a light, “Anyone got any good jokes?”
And we’re off.
These are going to be the most covered, attacked, broken down, analyzed, and pressurized 82-game regular season the Golden State Warriors are ever going to witness. Did Dray and Klay get into another scuffle off a missed switching assignment in the beginning of the third quarter? Is Dray out of control? (Dray shot down any notion of him changing with a “I know how to be me way better than I know how to be anyone else” quote). Where is the rebounding? Where is the rim protection? Why is the offense relegated to isolations?
Etching across history, we have the Miami Heat who struggled in their first 20 games, culminating in a shove between LeBron and Erik Spoelstra. We’ve seen older versions of the Jerry West take forever to gel. We’ve seen the Karl Malone-Gary Payton fail when it mattered most. The Dwight Howard-Steve Nash Lakers started like this and it never got better. The Boston Celtics immediately went about their business the way we thought these Warriors would. Instead, like everything nuanced in life, each human being, each step in history is its own moment.
The comparisons are fun and entertaining. At the very least, they provide fodder for everyone who despises and loves these Warriors. Now they embark on a journey perhaps no one saw coming. After a 29-point beating, these Warriors are back to the drawing board. The bench played as useless as they did in the postseason. The smallball lineup remained as solvable by big men as it did in the Conference Finals and the Finals. The problems that many harped on remains and even shone brighter on the biggest stage.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Nothing free, nothing perfect, is ever as it seems. The Kevin Durant era was never going to start as swimmingly as your 2K simulations. Maybe we should have drawn this out. Maybe this is a blip. The energy certainly wasn’t there. The defensive assignments were old. And the team looked as lost as it has in stretches the last 10-15 games. Regardless, each regular season game is a soap opera episode with its outlandishly unrealistic cliffhanger in itself. We have 81 left to go.
The last two seasons have come as pleasantly and as smoothly as possible until its end. The Warriors are starting anew now and about to make this ride as bumpy and ferociously fascinating as possible. And we have no choice but to tune into the story for the ages. As Warriors fans across the last two decades, you’d have it any other way?