Randall Williams | Sports Editor
It’s been a very interesting year for the reigning NBA champs.
For much of the season, the Golden State Warriors seemed sluggish, almost as if they could not care less about the regular season. Then injuries began to pile up. The team’s big four all sat out multiple games at once.
In a sense, this didn’t really matter, as NBA analysts all agreed that if the team could be ready come playoff time, they’d have nothing to worry about. On March 23, all of that changed. Steph Curry made his return from his ankle sprain, and late in the third quarter, Javale McGee awkwardly fell into Curry’s right knee. Curry immediately limped away, grimacing in pain. After a couple of days, the team diagnosed their starting guard with a grade 2 MCL sprain, an injury that could keep him out three to four weeks.
What Curry brings to the floor for his team is incomparable. He’s able to spread out the opposition’s defense to not only create opportunities for himself but his teammates, too. Still, without their main man, the Warriors were still in good shape. Having Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is as good as a trio as anyone’s — at least, that’s what was thought. Since Curry went out again, the team has been a lackluster 4-6. Three of those four wins came against the bottom-feeders of the league.
Their one win that helped keep fans’ hopes alive was against a rival Oklahoma City Thunder team, an opponent that was constructed to tear down the Warriors. In their first two meetings, it looked like the Thunder could do it. OKC crushed Golden State with an average margin of victory of 18.5 points. In the third meeting, the Warriors used a third quarter run to bully their way to a win.
However, even with that win on their resume, things didn’t change. They continued to lose to teams that they shouldn’t such as the Pacers by 20, and even a 40-point beat-down by the Utah Jazz.
To many, it just doesn’t add up. The Warriors have the second-best player in the league, one of the best defenders and a top-two shooter. Along with this, the Warriors have found a valuable piece in Quinn Cook, who has stepped up in a tremendous fashion in Curry’s absence.
Last year, similar circumstances hit. Durant went out with an injury to his leg, but the exact opposite happened. Golden State used it as motivation to go on its longest winning streak of the season. So why hasn’t the same thing happened this year?
Stephen A. Smith and other NBA anaylsts have called out Durant to show up and take the lead.
“If [you’re] KD, nobody else should be a problem outside of Houston,” Smith said on ESPN.
It’s not just the reporters, though. Fans agree, too.
Hamptonian Cameron Austin said, “KD can’t be the best player in the world if he can’t carry his team. LeBron has been doing it for years now.”
Austin continued, “I think this all but solidifies the argument of who the best player in the world is.”
What’s crazy is, things have seemed to work out for Golden State. Out of all the teams they could have played in the first round, they ended up facing the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs, a team they can easily sweep. You can’t ever count out any team coached by Gregg Popovich, but at the end of the day, the Warriors are the overwhelming favorite.
A four-game sweep would mean a lot to the Bay area team. They wouldn’t just build momentum, they’d also get much needed rest before facing either the Pelicans or Trail Blazers, two noteworthy opponents.
Either way, they’ll most likely need Curry for the semifinals, and definitely for the conference finals. The Rockets look to be unstoppable, and there is absolutely no way the Warriors can take out Houston without their most important player.