Warriors Pursuit of Regular Season Greatness Led to Finals Collapse

The Golden State Warriors were transcendent all season long. They started the regular season off with a bang, winning 24 consecutive games, and rumbled on to a 73-9 regular season record. It seemed that this team didn’t flex their collective greatness unless they had. There were numerous times when teams like the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Oklahoma City Thunder each had the Warriors on the ropes. The only thing that these teams were missing was someone like Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. It only took one defensive stop or a turnover and they would go off on one of their explosive runs and miraculously win games they had no right to win. That’s what happens when you have two great players on a great team, you win games on your worse days. Having the first unanimous MVP, the runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year, and several two-way players that can also score and take games over are also key ingredients to amassing the greatest regular season in NBA History.

The Warriors entered the playoffs as the clear favorite. In the first round they faced the Houston Rockets. It was a conference finals rematch from the season prior. Everything was going great in Game 1, until Curry twisted his ankle. Which just so happens to be the same ankle he had surgery on back in 2011. When he made his return 3 games later the unimaginable happened and he sprained his right knee. Now, not only is the Warriors organization panicking, but the Warriors fan base and the NBA as a whole. Not to worry though, as we all know by now, Curry made his triumphant return in late in the second round against the Portland Trail Blazers. In the Conference Finals was where Curry and the Warriors truly struggled, where they faced the Thunder, who were coming a great playoff series win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors initially struggled against the Thunders massive length and elite athleticism and dug themselves into a 3-1 hole, creating more questions and rumors. Questions and rumors surrounding the health of MVP Stephen Curry due to his struggles. Draymond Green was even getting into trouble accumulating flagrant fouls points after kicking Steven Adams in the groin and playing a very physical series against the Thunder big men. The Warriors luckily completed a seemingly impossible task and came back against the Thunder thanks to their elite shooting. Although the Thunder was clearly the better team in the series, the Warriors were able to shoot themselves out of their hole and make it to their second straight NBA Finals.

In the NBA Finals we got another rematch, the Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Golden State Warriors. The first three games were complete blowouts, the Warriors taking a 2-1 series advantage. The Warriors looked stronger than ever, until catastrophe struck. First Draymond Green inadvertently hit LeBron James in the groin and they got into a heated conversation due to James attempting to step over him during play. This resulted in Green drawing a flagrant foul point, which was the last flagrant foul he could get without getting punished with a 1 game suspension. Secondly Andrew Bogut, the Warriors best rim-protector, went down with a season ending sprained knee. Despite winning the game the Warriors entered Game 5 with a lot of questions. Without their fiery leader game 5 and their rim protector for the rest of the series, the Warriors suffered an epic collapse that resulted in the Cavs becoming the first team in NBA Finals history to successfully come back from a 3-1 series deficit.

What was it that led to possibly the greatest collapse in NBA Finals history? The accumulation of fatigue, emotional and physical is what most likely did. At least that’s what most pundits and fans believe. It makes the most sense, too, as the Warriors most serious mistake ended up with them failing to defend their title. All season long the team claimed they didn’t care about beating the 95-96 Chicago Bulls’ regular season title, but clearly they did. That pursuit of the title of being the greatest regular season resulted in them clearly being on their last legs in the playoffs, running on fumes and feeling the fatigue and frustration of an incredibly taxing season and playoffs. It’s why Stephen Curry hurt his knee and ankle, noticeably showing the signs of those injuries in the Conference Finals and Finals. It was the reason Andre Bogut’s legged buckled on him and the big men went down with a knee injury, and why Andre Iguodala battled a back injury the last two games of the series. A word to the wise, and any team seeking regular season infamy, IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Look at these Golden State Warriors as proof that the regular season truly means nothing in the long term.