The Golden State Warriors have gone from one of the NBA’s Greatest Teams of all time to one of the NBA’s Biggest Disappointments of all time in a two-game stretch. How did this happen? How did a team go from unbeatable to terrible so quickly? The Warriors lost only nine times during the regular season, establishing a new record in the process. At no time did they lose back to back games in the regular season or in the playoffs. That is until they went to Oklahoma City.
The two games in OKC have been dominated by the Thunder. They blew the Warriors out in Game Three, 133-105. How does a team that was 73-9 allow 133 points in the Western Conference Finals? Whatever happened to playoff “no layup” basketball? The only hot topic coming out of that game was whether Draymond Green intentionally kicked Thunder center Steven Adams in the crotch.
Steph Curry, who has been all but unstoppable the past two seasons, drawing some comparisons to the greats of the game, shot only 7-17 from the floor and only 3-11 from the three point line. In the second quarter, the Thunder outscored the Warriors 38-19! Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both broke 30 while Serge Ibaka, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter all scored in double figures.
Many thought the Warriors would bounce back in Game Four. That did not happen. The Warriors were down by 19 at the half. They did get it back to 78-70 early inn the third but before they knew it they were down by 14 at the end of the third quarter. Again, Curry struggled from the floor, playing even worse than he did in Game Three.
Curry was 6-20 in the game and 2-10 from the three point line. Is he hurt? Is he tired? Is he choking? Or has just defended him better than anyone has in two years? The Warriors had better figure this out quickly because they are going to be playing an elimination game for the first time in a long time in Game Five back in Oakland. If they survive that one they will face another in back in OKC in Game Six.
The Warriors have an opportunity here to do something the 72-win Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan never had to do, win under the pressure of facing elimination. If they can climb back and win this series down 3-1 and go on to win the Finals, they will certainly be in the discussion of greatest teams ever. But if they lose, they won’t even be mentioned in the conversation. Anything short of the NBA Championship and the season will be a bust.