Road to a Finals: Can a Warriors go 16-0 in a playoffs with Kevin Durant?

It’s not violent to suppose a
Golden State Warriors
unconditional a whole playoffs. Let’s start there. 

The Warriors are definitively a best group in a NBA and a usually one that employs 4 All-Stars. Their invulnerability is roughly as considerable as their offense, that is observant something — they scored some-more well this deteriorate than any group in NBA history. They had a improved indicate differential than a group that won 73 games final season, and devising a diversion devise to extent
Stephen Curry
,
Kevin Durant
,
Klay Thompson
and
Draymond Green
has agonized hostile coaching staffs. 

Before they even played a singular diversion together, one Western Conference executive said everybody around a joining was rooting for them to “get harm or hatred any other.” Durant got hurt, yet he’s healthy now and they seem as agreeable as ever. 

Their highway to a Finals — and potentially a second championship in 3 years — could spin out to be a slightest thespian of any pretension leader in new history. In fact, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller was confidant adequate to envision that Golden State will go 16-0. Before it gets started, let’s take a demeanour during what this superteam has finished and what, if anything, competence get in a way.  

So things went … perfectly?

Well, they didn’t get 73 wins again, yet that’s fine. Curry pronounced recently that he felt there was reduction hoopla during a finish of a season, that is both loyal and a uncanny thing to contend about a many lonesome group in a NBA. It’s roughly unfit for Golden State to stir people since of a talent, yet it couldn’t ask to be in a improved position than this. 

That’s not to contend that there weren’t hiccups here and there. The Warriors mislaid their initial diversion of a deteriorate by 29 points, and it took them a small while to find a stroke they had for a immeasurable infancy of Steve Kerr’s tenure. Durant was implausible from a impulse he arrived, though, and when Curry satisfied he didn’t have to defer to assistance him feel during home, Golden State started looking unstoppable again.

The Warriors were 50-9 before Durant went down with a Grade 2 MCL twist and a bone hash in his left knee during a finish of February. Then they mislaid 5 of 7 games. Kerr conceded that this represented adversity, comparatively speaking, yet also called it a “blip on a radar screen.” When their horrible highway outing ended, they ran off 15 wins in 16 games to tighten a season. 

While Durant was out, they placed an even bigger importance on passing. They also, unexpectedly, were even improved on defense. When he returned for a final 3 games, he had no difficulty wise behind in. 

Heading into a season, a usually genuine doubt anybody had about Golden State endangered how it would urge yet a normal edge guardian and how it would keep everybody happy on offense. Both of those worries seem diverting in retrospect. 

Kevin Durant has done a Warriors even better.
USATSI

OK, we get it, best group ever. Are they even a small bit vulnerable?

If we was looking to erect a box opposite a Warriors, I’d substantially indicate to their purchase statistics, that are down significantly from final season. Two games in sold mount out. In Cleveland on Christmas Day, they gave adult a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and mislaid by a singular point. Against Memphis on Jan. 6, they went ice cold in a final support and mislaid a 24-point lead, losing in overtime. Part of a motive for bringing in Durant was a fact that he can get a shot off whenever he wants, yet there’s an evidence that his participation could make it some-more formidable in mangle time since he’s used to isolating in those situations, that runs opposite to Golden State’s identity. 

I know that logic, and whatever a Warriors do a subsequent time they’re in a tighten diversion will be analyzed in detail. If given a choice, however, between carrying Durant or not carrying Durant in a purchase situation, each executive and manager in a joining would like to have him. 

Golden State does not have many loyal weaknesses. The categorical one is defensive resilient — usually a squalid
New York Knicks
grabbed a smaller commission of accessible defensive play in a unchanging season. The book on a Warriors isn’t many opposite than it was final year when a
Oklahoma City Thunder
challenged them and a
Cleveland Cavaliers
kick them — browbeat a descent glass, switch as many as probable to forestall their offense from flowing, and lift a spin like crazy in transition to equivocate confronting their halfcourt defense. If all of that was easy, though, afterwards they wouldn’t have won 67 games. 

We should only omit a Warriors’ first-round array then?

Not necessarily. The
Portland Trail Blazers
didn’t get demolished when they met Golden State in a second spin final year. Some of that is since Curry missed a initial 3 games, yet a lot of it was also since Portland can be a handful offensively.
Damian Lillard
and C.J. McCollum like a plea of competing opposite a Splash Brothers, and if
Jusuf Nurkic
is healthy, afterwards a core will benefaction a opposite kind of problem — and provoke as many Warriors as he can. 

These games could be fun and rather competitive. You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find anybody outward a Blazers’ locker room who thinks their invulnerability stands a possibility opposite a Warriors’ firepower. If you’re a fan yet an allegiance, a best we can wish for is a few shootouts. If Portland doesn’t get prohibited from 3-point range, blowouts are likely. 

How many of a hazard are a
San Antonio Spurs
,
Houston Rockets
and a rest of a West?

Kerr borrowed a word “appropriate fear” from San Antonio Spurs manager Gregg Popovich, and he will make certain his group has it for any of a playoff opponents. That said, there’s a satisfactory bit of stretch between Golden State during a rise and any of these challengers, and unconditional a Blazers would make all easier.  

If a Warriors take caring of a Portland quickly, afterwards they could have many fresher legs than their second-round opponent.
Los Angeles Clippers
vs.
Utah Jazz
is widely deliberate a closest first-round array on paper, and it could spin out to be a seven-game slugfest. If it’s as firmly contested as many consider it will be, afterwards possibly group competence be mentally and physically emptied by a time they face Golden State. That could outcome in another brief series, even yet Los Angeles and Utah are both glorious teams that could theoretically poise problems. 

The Spurs and Rockets were a second- and third-best teams in a NBA by net rating, and if conjunction one is dissapoint in a initial round, afterwards one will face a Warriors in a playoffs. The teams differ stylistically, yet they are identical in that they have comprehensive offenses and MVP candidates. San Antonio also had a NBA’s tip invulnerability (edging a Warriors by 0.2 points per 100 possession), yet there are genuine questions about either or not that will reason adult in a playoff environment, generally opposite Golden State. Houston competence indeed have a best shot simply since of variance: it is going to fire an comprehensive ton of 3-pointers each game, and when a high commission of them go in, it can kick anybody.

Without a critical injury, cessation or some other kind of amazing disaster, any Warriors detriment before a Finals will be a large upset. They shouldn’t be approaching to win by 30 each time, yet they have warranted a right to be deliberate a large favorites all a approach through. 

Portland will have a tough time negligence down Stephen Curry and friends.
USATSI

What about a Cavaliers? 

The approach they’ve been playing, it competence be ridiculous to assume a third true Warriors-Cavs assembly is in a cards. Cleveland has seemed delayed and sleepy for a while now, and it will have to mangle some bad habits defensively to even have a possibility to win back-to-back titles. The Cavs do have one thing going for them that nobody else does, though:
LeBron James
is on their roster.

If it wasn’t already obvious, a whole universe schooled final Jun that we can never count James out, even when his group is down 3-1 opposite a best regular-season group in NBA history. He is closely informed with Golden State’s crew and tendencies, and he has a shooters around him that he needs to make good looks opposite a league’s best defenses. 

Since Cleveland’s competitors in a East have gotten better, a lapse to a Finals would approaching meant that it figured out how to stay some-more connected on invulnerability somewhere along a way. The Cavs’ playoff revolution won’t be that opposite from final deteriorate — 
Matthew Dellavedova
and
Timofey Mozgov
were non-factors in a quip — and they have proven they can overcome adversity. They indispensable a few propitious breaks and 3 of a best particular performances in Finals story from James in sequence to lift it off final year, though, and, presumption a Warriors are healthy in June, they competence need even some-more than that this time. 

If there’s a rematch, Golden State will need to consistently emanate good shots notwithstanding Cleveland switching everything. It will need to feat mismatches and not let a Cavs make them uncomfortable. If Cleveland flips a switch, some of this could be challenging, yet formed on how a Warriors’ deteriorate has gone, they should be means to figure it all out.

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