How many lives do the 2018 Golden State Warriors have? The fourth iteration of LeBron James facing off against Stephen Curry’s Warriors had us bracing for boredom. It has the entire online basketball universe so tuned out the analysis itself seemed forced and withdrawn. Instead, it was another all-time installment to the greatest modern-day legacy. And this time, it was LeBron’s finest performance to date, overshadowed by JR Smith and the incessant whining of an entire Cleveland Cavaliers team looking for someone other than themselves to blame.
It’s always interesting to how a team, their players, and an organization reacts in moments of disarray. The Golden State Warriors pulled off an all-time choke-job in Vol. 2 of this rivalry and made no excuses or blamed anyone but themselves for that loss. The vibe around team after Game 2 was honest. Shaun Livingston, not known for speaking much, essentially confirmed the good fortune. Steve Kerr said, “We got lucky.”
And that’s perhaps what will remain the theme of this Golden State Warriors run throughout the last two rounds. They screwed around with the Houston Rockets, well on their way to a 5-game series, then blew a few close games and had to endure a Chris Paul injury to steal it in 7. Now against an undermanned LeBron James team, they got up double digits in the third only to lose that away quickly once again, relying on a stumble by JR Smith to win in OT. The other side, perhaps accurately, would state that the Warriors win these games anyway. They’re more talented, have a level higher than anyone else in the NBA, and have shown those heights before. But not this postseason. Those highs have yet to be reached not just in these playoffs, but the entire regular season.
The defense was miserable in the first quarter, extended into the second, and when the third quarter blitz came, the defense never arrived. Patrick McCaw, David West, and JaVale McGee came off the bench to form an 11-man rotation. This was a January gameplan and a January effort, through and through. Sure, there were splendid performances from Stephen Curry on both ends, but it never felt like the Warriors feel threatened. The type of threatened when they start to jump around at the ball, turn it over and rush a 3 in crunchtime, and even begin “splintering”, as Steph said after Game 7 against Houston.
That never came to be against the Cavs, even if the game went further than any other game, into a do-or-die overtime period. It’s obvious that the Warriors don’t feel like they can lose if they play a B-effort. They never feel like they will lose even if the other team is playing well. They got caught by a virtuoso Michael Jordan cameo from this era’s MJ. And they probably should have lose.
How many lives do the Golden State Warriors have? They seem to survive everything, the greatest team ever living fat off their unreal margin of error. So at the end of the day, the opposing teams will call them lucky. But for the Warriors, does it matter?