During the regular season of the NBA, the world witnessed one of the best teams in basketball history shatter records, embarrassing opponent after opponent. The Warriors were a team with unquestionable chemistry. They operated with well defined roles; Klay Thompson as a reliable scorer who could go off at any moment, Draymond Green as the defensive anchor and foundation to a seamless offense, and Stephen Curry as the deadly sharpshooter that fans all over the world would watch day in and day out.
During the regular season, the Warriors helped to usher in a new age of basketball; one in which deep threes early in the shot clock were the norm, and a small lineup of guards and forwards threatened to outscore you by 30 points in a quarter.
The playoffs have been different for the Warriors. They are not going well, in the least.
Tuesday night’s game ended with another Thunder win, this one arguably worse than the last. The final score was 118–94, and pushed the Warriors to the brink of elimination. In order to win the Western Conference finals, the Warriors will need to win 3 games in a row.
The good news is that its been done before.
The bad news is that it’s extremely rare.
All of the teams that have achieved this feat in league history are as follows:
Celtics vs. 76ers 1968
Lakers vs. Suns 1970
Wizards (Then Bullets) vs. Spurs 1979
Celtics vs. Philadelphia 1981
Rockets vs. Suns 1995
Heat vs. Knicks 1997
Pistons vs Magic 2003
Suns vs. Lakers 2006
Rockets vs. Clippers 2015
Wins like this have only happened nine times in NBA History! There have been more blue moons in that time frame. Seriously!
Basketball analysts and fans across the nation are struggling mightily to explain what has befallen our beloved Warriors. How can a team that has won 73 games in the regular season be on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals?
Several causes have to be examined.
One immediate factor that comes to mind is Draymond Green. During the regular season, Green operated as the catalyst to the Warriors deadly reaction. Take a look at any one of his better regular season games and you’ll see an extremely skilled forward who ran the floor like a stag and punished any defense for focusing too heavily on perimeter defense. His ability to spread the floor, knock down threes from deep, and control the paint made the Warriors a nightmare for any opponent. Draymond Green’s unrivaled efficiency lead the Warriors to spectacular wins, ie April 3rd, a game in which Draymond had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 22 points.
To be frank, the Draymond Green that helped the Warriors dominate the regular season has gone missing.
In the Tuesday night loss against the Thunder, Green had a measly six points in 38 minutes of play, but managed to rack up six turnovers and three personal fouls.
That’s not to say that Green was the only player with a lackluster performance. Curry was helped to 19 points on the night and shot 2–11 from three, while the rest the bench failed to supplement the marginal performance of the superstar. Only three players reach double digits.
Ever since Westbrook and Durant started playing together in 2008, it was long predicted that they would form a deadly duo. Right now, we are seeing the manifestation of that prediction.
Throughout the playoffs, the duo has been among the top five scorers; Durant in first place with 27.7 points per playoff game, and Russell Westbrook in fifth place with 26.0 points per game.
Curry, who was at the number one spot during the regular season, is now in seventh place in leading scorers.
All of these factors have combined to create the perfect storm, and the Warriors are at risk of being blown away.
The last two games the Warriors have lost have been on the road, but on the 26th, they’ll have the opportunity to salvage the series in front of a sellout crowd in the Oracle Arena.
Will the Warriors make NBA history again and become the 10thteam to come back and win 3 games in a row in a series?
Originally published at www.armchairallamericans.com on May 26, 2016.