The Golden State Warriors had won 14 in a row. Earlier in the day, Steve Kerr himself stated that this team reminded him of the 2015 championship that waltzed into the postseason so relaxed and confident. Instead of gearing themselves up and building the pressure that comes with winning streaks and historic records, the Warriors start the postseason series against the Portland Trail Blazers with just the normal amount of expectations a championship favorite would feel.
In an odd twist of what GSW normally does, they are resting each star per game, including a likely no-show against the Los Angeles Lakers. And by doing so, they have yet to see the five best players on the floor together, and with Monday night’s crunchtime lineup of JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, and James Michael McAdoo, we will not see the Warriors’ best until it absolutely matters.
So it appears the Warriors are trying to right their hypothetical wrongs of yesteryear. There is no vengeance tour against the shouting masses. No petty wars with the former players that are better left mouthing off into the void. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green have done everything the regular season has allowed them to do. Throughout the season, they have excelled and played well when it has mattered. With the one-seed and home court advantage wrapped up, the Warriors look towards history when their best players are just hitting their stride.
Iguodala’s jumper and aggressiveness is still in reserve. Kevin Durant isn’t moving quite the same but the impact is second to none on any title contender. Klay Thompson is Klay Thompson. Draymond’s defense is greater than ever. And above all else, Curry has found his inner Cleveland Cavaliers/San Antonio Spurs, coasting through a meaningless regular season before turning on the jets when it now matters most.
And at the top, Kerr has done everything in his power to keep the Warriors as under-the-radar as possible. Yes, they are prohibitive favorites but the postseason storyline starts with LeBron James’ team’s struggles, the Boston Celtics/Washington Wizards/Toronto Raptors vying for a Finals appearance, and the stacked Western Conference hosting 3 MVP candidates on three teams along with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors are the story and will remain the laughingstock if a title doesn’t happen again. But unlike last year, the bright lights are less so on them than it has been all season. For now, the Warriors will gladly take that and run.