A season ago, it felt like the Golden State Warriors had won the championship. After sprinting, falling, and flying through the 7th straight game against Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, it seemed like they’d seen the worst and passed with flying colors. The rest was just a footnote en route to their storybook season and ending. What came next has spurned this team to celebrate their third straight NBA Finals berth the way they did Monday night in San Antonio. In another methodical 129-115 blowout, the Warriors treated the victory with a tempered regular season-esque set of emotions. They’re not only ready for what’s coming next, but been staring directly at it since last June.
Forget what happened in the series against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Utah Jazz, and even the San Antonio Spurs. Regardless of Jusuf Nurkic, George Hill, Kawhi Leonard, and whoever else you want to throw into the vat of excuses, the Warriors were never going to lose a series going into their third match against LeBron James. Nothing was stopping this collection of players to go after Kevin Durant, integrate him into a system that showcased his inhumanly efficient scoring and rim protecting ability in the closeout game against the Spurs. And none of these teams were standing in the way of the Warriors, and they knew it.
After the game, every player said the right thing. They recited the normal tropes of not treating this run as something they’d do again, not taking it for granted, and to feel appreciative of what they had accomplished. And yet, it still feels as if this entire run, this entire season, and what the Warriors have built everything up to was for this moment on June 1st, and many more to come. But it starts then.
The redemption, if you will, of Stephen Curry’s struggles, Draymond Green’s suspension, and the coaching staff’s inability to adjust to Cleveland’s attack, has been bubbling to the surface. Draymond annihilated the Spurs at the rim the entire season, capping it off with a 16-8-8 effort before his rim showdown with LeBron. Durant carried the second-unit scoring that will give the Cavs no room to capitalize during each 48-minute stretch. The bench converted enough scoring and defense to hold leads.
But in the center of it all, and in the center of this team’s resurgence and rise, is Curry’s exemplary play. 36 points on 24 shots in 34 minutes, 6 assist, 5 rebounds, and a response for just about every run the Spurs had. Last year’s struggles still hurt. Despite the knee injury, he should have been better. The year before, regardless of the championship and a deserved Finals MVP that went to Andre Iguodala, others still note that Matthew Dellavedova outplayed him for a game. Curry still hears the criticism, despite the two MVPs, still fights through the contact and the non-whistles, and is 4 wins away from cementing his legacy as one of the greatest point guards of all time.
The Warriors are just 4 wins away from history. And there’s a growing chemistry on offense between KD and Steph that’s starting to make this team completely unfathomable. As we near June 1st, 2017 and the first bite of their chance at history, there’s a chance this could finish up an even greater storybook ending than the one we all thought cemented last June. 12 wins in a row, 4 wins to go, and these Golden State Warriors looking for revenge and redemption might lose not one more, regardless of opponent.