The Golden State Warriors are defending NBA champions, but that hasn’t bought them much in the way of faith regarding their chances to repeat.
Finishing the season six games over .500 and slotted firmly the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference has sowed doubts among basketball fans and media. An 11-30 record away from home didn’t inspire much confidence either. Then, of course, there is the Dubs’ aging trio of stars and the preseason fiasco in which one of those stars, Draymond Green, dropped fourth-year guard Jordan Poole with a swift punch to the face during practice.
So maybe, in retrospect, the doubters came by their apprehension honest where the Warriors are concerned. But four titles and six trips to the NBA Finals in eight years has to count for something. Knocking off the No. 3-seeded Sacramento Kings with road wins in Games 5 and 7 ought to buy the Warriors even more. Yet still, the questions persist, even as Golden State heads into a series against the No. 7-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in which the Dubs hold home court and are the favorites to advance (Warriors [-160] and Lakers [+135] to win series, per BetMGM).
Steph Curry, fresh off breaking a league record by dropping 50 points in Game 7 against the Kings, was asked about the Dubs being written off as legitimate title contenders moving forward in this year’s playoffs. He responded with the kind of message every team and player still active in this postseason can, or at least should, take to heart.
“Not as long as I’m still breathing,” Curry said.
Draymond Green Takes Exception to NBA Experts ‘Turning Page’ on Warriors
Green, who has been Curry’s running mate through the entirety of the Dubs’ modern day dynasty, also took exception to people around the league assuming that the Warriors are past their collective prime.
“Stop trying to turn the page on us so fast. Stop trying to turn the page on [LeBron James] so fast. We get so caught up in, ‘What’s the next thing?’ that we don’t appreciate the current,” Green said during his postgame press conference on Sunday.
“And then you get to the next thing and looking back like, ‘I wish we still had that. I wish we could still see this,'” Green continued. “So for me and our guys, we’re gonna appreciate this every step of the way.”
Warriors Renew Postseason Rivalry With LeBron James
It was interesting that Green invoked James’ name in his comments considering their shared history as competitors.
The Warriors squared off against James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four consecutive NBA Finals between 2015-18. Golden State captured three of those titles, falling to the Cavs just once in 2016 after holding a 3-1 series lead.
Green was famously suspended for Game 5 of that series on the Dubs’ home floor after he punched James in the midsection during action late in the previous contest. Cleveland went on to win Game 5 and the next two, allowing James to capture his only championship with the Cavaliers.
James has won a title since, doing so as a member of the Lakers in the NBA bubble during the 2020 season, which was interrupted by the pandemic. The Warriors have also captured another title, winning last year over the Boston Celtics.
Even with all the great teams Golden State has vanquished on its way to dynasty status, perhaps the franchise’s greatest nemesis is a single player — and that player is James. The two sides haven’t met in the postseason for five years and it is fitting that now, with all of the participants longer in the tooth and presumably more mature, they will square off again in a seven-game bout for the right to play in the 2023 Western Conference Finals.