Enough is enough. The Golden State Warriors are on their final legs, with another shot at back-to-back titles dwindling to its final hours. They got here, two titles, a 73-win season, and a chance at basketball immortality, because of the singular powers of that one guy. He’s changed the narrative and style of basketball on its head in just the last 5 years. And now he’s playing basketball like a role player because there’s so many voices in an organization that’s been orchestrated so perfectly, luck or not. This is Stephen Curry’s team, his franchise, his time, and absolutely his turn now to climb out of his unforeseen deficit.
Game 5 on Thursday night was a mirror image of Game 4, especially down the stretch. The Warriors ran the offense through Kevin Durant at mismatches, mostly against Chris Paul. Their defense was solid, if not opportunistic against an exhausted Houston Rockets roster. But when the minutes, and the seconds, started to pull into the forefront every possession’s importance, Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, and James Harden came through. Their identity is best laid in the slow-it-down matchup-hunting isolation effectiveness. Neither of the last two games came close to the over/under and that’s the way the Rockets wanted to rock the Warriors.
Regardless of what happens with Chris Paul’s hamstrings, the identity crisis the Warriors has been bubbling under the surface all offseason. This wasn’t the case last year when Steph manned the controls with full health. Of course, none of the games were close. The Warriors are so fully shook because they don’t ever play consistent games like this. They didn’t respect the likes of Harden, Gordon, and even Gerald Green, who is now hitting big shots and switching successfully on Steph. Out of necessity, the Warriors went to a KD-centric offense in the first round, and after he told the coaching staff after the G3 loss in New Orleans, they went back to it again. It was successful for himself, and the end result, but the long-term game has suffered. It isn’t fool’s gold so much as the this isn’t how the Warriors won all those games and made the masses think basketball was ruined.
The arrogance and confidence remains. And rightfully so. They’ve been down 3-1 to Oklahoma City. The Paul injury provides them comfort in-game, if not the criticism after. Andre Iguodala’s health and presumed return does the same. But none of that matters anymore. One game away from just winning 2 titles in 4 years with one of if not the greatest core roster assembled is a much worse fate than winning because of an injury.
So now the lens shifts to Stephen Curry. Steve Kerr has failed to put him in the right position. Kevin Durant has done the best he can but had to be told by Kerr to trust his teammates. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, while stout on defense, has yet to show up on offense. All that said, none of it matters. Steph was content with not saying a word about his small contract in public, none when Kerr omitted his name during the Finals parade, nothing when KD went on an Uber commercial with LeBron talking about top-2 players, and perpetually happy with standing in the corner while the team runs motion offense. Throw everything out. It’s time to get a little Russell Westbrook in you, a smattering of Kobe Bryant, and even some Chris Paul. It’s Steph’s franchise, his legacy on the line, and his turn to take this team to the NBA Finals.