Can The Golden State Warriors Make It Back To The Top?
After two consecutive seasons without reaching the play-offs, fans of the Golden State Warriors must have been shell-shocked. The team that reached five consecutive NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019, winning three titles along the way, had suddenly capitulated, unable to find their best form and live up to the standards set in previous seasons.
With a new campaign comes fresh opportunities, and the Golden State Warriors have got off to an impressive start, winning 10 of their opening 12 regular season games, losing just twice. There have been some solid victories within that run, leading to some thinking that this team could be on the up once again after a couple of indifferent campaigns. The only defeat came against the Memphis Grizzlies, and even that was a narrow three-point margin.
Of course, there is a long way to go in this NBA season, and no championship was ever won in the first 11 games of the regular season. But there are clearly signs that Steve Kerr’s team have recovered some of the dominant qualities that made them so hard to beat for five successive seasons. Players who had perhaps fallen out of form have rediscovered their magic touch, and that is hugely exciting for fans of the San Francisco-based side.
There was always likely to be some kind of comedown after the sensational run which saw the team, spearheaded by Steph Curry, land three NBA titles in five years. The Warriors developed a fierce rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers, against whom they contested the NBA Finals for four consecutive years between 2015 and 2018, beating the Ohio outfit on three of those occasions. That kind of intense rivalry at the top of the sport is likely to ultimately bring fatigue, and that was evident in 2019 when the Warriors lost the Finals in surprising fashion to the Toronto Raptors.
Since then, things haven’t exactly gone to plan. In the truncated 2019-20 season, which was heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Warriors finished as the lowest ranked team in the Western Conference, with a record of just 15 wins and a mammoth 50 losses. It was hard to know where things went wrong, but clearly the exertions of prior campaigns, along with the difficulties of the pandemic, had taken their toll.
The 2020-21 season saw Golden State improve, but it wasn’t quite enough to make the play-offs. By finishing as the ninth-ranked team in the Western Conference, they qualified for the newly staged play-in tournament, but suffered a narrow defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, which meant their season was over.
Now, those memories can be put to one side, and it seems as though the Warriors are in a good place at this early stage of the season. A lot can change in a short time in basketball, as Curry and co. have found out to their detriment over the past couple of years, but by the same token, the form that the Warriors showed throughout the 2010s can’t be too far away.
They might not be the favourites among those betting on the NBA games to win the Championship this year, but they are a team who knows what it takes to win, and that counts for something.