Regular season record: 67-15 (1st in NBA)
Road to the Finals: Pelicans (4-0), Memphis (4-2), Houston (4-1).
Postseason stats compared to regular season:
ORtg 104.3 (4th among 16 playoff teams), 111.6 (2nd among 30 teams)
DRtg 96.3 (4th among 16 playoff teams), 101.4 (1st among 30 teams)
Golden State reach NBA Finals after 40 years
For the first time since 1975 the Warriors have reached the NBA Finals. That year they won the championship led by the superstar Rick Barry, one of the all-time greatest forwards. 40 years is a long period, for sure.
Golden State has had some quality teams and excellent players like Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell, Jason Richardson and Baron Davis, but none of them could bring another banner in the Bay.
Oakland Bay Area: The Process of Building
This story started in 2009 when Golden State used its 7th pick to draft Stephen Curry, the reigning league MVP. In 2011, they selected Klay Thompson, and in 2012 Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green were added to the core. 4 out of 5 starters are their picks, and the Warriors have done a really magnificent job by selecting these guys.
They also traded the unsatisfied team star Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut, the man who anchored the league’s best defense this season. The Warriors’ management certainly knows what they are doing. The final piece of the puzzle was replacing successful coach Mark Jackson with immensely successful Steve Kerr, who guided the club to the first place in the NBA and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The “Oracle Arena“ is like Mordor for the guest teams – the Warriors lost just 3 games there in the regular season and postseason combined. Only the Grizzlies managed to defeat them in California in the playoffs. Hell is awaiting the Cavaliers and Lebron James.
Offense wins games, defense wins championships?
It’s been said that shooting teams don’t win the championships, and yet the Warriors are four games away from doing that. But they also have a stifling defense and even Curry, usually considered a liability, is now guarding the opponent’s best backcourt option.
They have an enormous size and length with Thompson, Barnes, Green, Livingston, Ezeli and Iguodala. Except for Ezeli, every other guy will certainly guard James during the game.
Ron Adams is the man who deserves credit for turning the Warriors into a nightmare matchup for any opponent. The Dubs can play 1 on 1 defense, they can blitz-switch, they can use Bogut or Ezeli to hedge Irving or Smith, they are fast and mobile enough to outrun any rival and for shorter periods of the game they can also play box and one defense in order to contain James or Irving.
Kevin Love’s absence in this series will be tantalizingly painful for Cleveland, because his skillset is made to torment teams like the Warriors.
The firepower of the Warriors is impressive and frightening, but their biggest strength is their ability to adapt in any situation.
Against the Pelicans, they forced Davis to work hard for every point and board. Against the Grizzlies, they provoked Tony Allen to shoot, and we know he can’t, and double-teamed Z-Bo or Gasol. Against Houston, they used the fact that Terry and Prigioni can’t guard their own shadow, let alone Curry, and they burned them, plus coach Kerr often switched guards on Harden, making him nervous and tired.
In the postseason Curry is averaging 29.2 ppg, 6.4 apg and 4.9 rpg, and we must mention the Dancing Bear Green who turned into an all-around beast with 14 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 5.3 apg over the 15 games in the playoffs (via basketball-reference.com).
They are the key against the Cavs. Not even healthy Irving is a good defender and Curry must take the advantage here.
If Blatt decides to guard him with James, which isn’t wise because Steph is the best shooter in the world and Rose is average, then Curry can simply punish them by creating shots for Thompson and Barnes, or use his sick handles and beat Lebron with the help of screens (and don’t forget that Curry can shoot and score from 30 feet distance).
I don’t expect that Lebron will spend a lot of time guarding Steph because that will diminish his strength and condition and disable him from doing some things on the offense. Bogut is significantly taller than Horford, and that will help against Mozgov and Thompson, who have recently been jumping and grabbing boards like kangaroos on steroids.
Neutralizing Thompson will be an important task, but Green is more than capable of doing so. Golden State’s bench possesses far more options and depth than Cleveland’s, and that is one more advantage in the Warriors favor.
With their shooting, speed, floor-spacing, versatility, resilience and toughness on defense it looks like the Warriors can respond to anything that Cleveland can throw at them. They can survive James and his brilliancy, and they can definitely score more using different offensive strategies.
Fadeaway prediction by Marlon: Warriors in 5