The NBA hasn’t seen a three-peat since the 2002 Los Angeles Lakers. With back-to-back championships under their belt, the Golden State Warriors are trying to add their name to the three-peat mantle and place their stamp into NBA history.
A season of turmoil has featured Draymond Green and Kevin Durant tiffs, acclimating DeMarcus Cousins into the roster, and even Steve Kerr voicing his frustration with Green during a timeout. Despite all of the craze, the Warriors still figured it out and worked their way into the number one seed of the Western Conference. Their play as of late has been as sharp as it has ever been, but can they keep it up to make it all the way through to the NBA Finals?
The Los Angeles Clippers are the first opponent on the Warriors slate during the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The regular season proved to be an easy task when the Clippers crossed their path. It was a 3-1 season series that averaged a 10.5 point difference in favor of the Warriors.
Stephen Curry had his way against this Clippers defense. In three games, Curry averaged 34 points on 54% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. His nemesis, Patrick Beverley has tried to use every trick in the book to stop the two-time MVP, but Beverley and the Clippers defense has been chopped liver when it comes to the offense of Curry.
Game 1 @ Golden State (Saturday, Apr. 13 – 8:00 PM EST, ABC)
Game 2 @ Golden State (Monday, Apr. 15 – 10:30 PM EST, TNT)
Game 3 @ Los Angeles (Thursday, Apr. 18 – 10:30 PM EST, TNT)
Game 4 @ Los Angeles (Sunday, Apr. 21 – 3:30 PM EST, ABC)
Game 5 @ Golden State (Wednesday, Apr. 24 – If Necessary)
Game 6 @ Los Angeles (Friday, Apr. 26 – If Necessary)
Game 7 @ Golden State (Sunday, Apr 28 – If Necessary)
How Can They Succeed?
The Warriors do not lack confidence. Rightfully so, since their biggest opponent is themselves. With a lineup full of All-Stars, the talent that this team possesses is immense. Their worst losses this season featured a ton of turnovers, bouts with referees, and a lack of effort. When they are clicking on all levels, there aren’t many teams who can compete.
Their keys to success are sticking to their system, taking care of the ball, and playing with joy. It’s going to take a lot for a team to take out the defending champs and if they don’t beat themselves, it can easily be another trip to the NBA Finals.
Who is their X-Factor?
The X-Factor is Boogie Cousins. He presents a dimension that the Warriors have yet to possess and that’s interior scoring. On top of their superb outside shooting, they finally have a player who they can dump the ball to and let him go to work. Cousins is averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 30 games played this season. In those 30 games, the Warriors are 23-7.
What’s great about Cousins is his court vision at the center position that fits right into what the Warriors like to do. He’s one of the best passing big men that we have in the league today. With this being his first entry into the postseason and this year being his showcase for a new contract next season, there’s a lot of pressure for him to prove what he’s made of. However, if he can play within the offense, channel his emotions, and play a well-balanced game, the Warriors will be in prime position to go far.
One positive stat in their favor
The Warriors are 16-9 since the All-Star break averaging 115.1 points per game shooting a league-leading 49% from the field. Efficiency has been their calling card behind the superb play of Curry and Durant. Their offense has been clicking and that’s a scary sight for all of the NBA.
One more stat to highlight is the three-point shooting of Green. He started off the season struggling from outside however in the past two months he has seemed to hit a stride. Green averaged 34.3% and 38.5% from behind the arc in the months of March and April respectively. Teams will try to expose his shooting during the postseason and if he’s hitting then the Warriors definitely have nothing to worry about.