Hear Me Out...Overrated, underrated, properly rated: The Golden State Warriors Edition
May 16, 2019
I know everyone hates the Warriors right now, it's just the cyclical nature of sports. Everyone loves a downtrodden franchise, like Golden State was not long ago, that finds a way to win a championship. But, win too much and everyone starts rooting for their fall. It's weird but it is how we're wired.
Naturally, most of the public was pulling for the Rockets to knock the Warriors from their throne. The way that series started it didn't look like it was going to happen, then Houston fought back into it and to top it off Kevin Durant got hurt.
The Rockets were in prime position to get rid of the defending champs. The shot was there, yet they missed. I'm not going to dump on them because they couldn't be an All-Time great team. Disappointing, obviously. Should they feel shameful? None, whatsoever.
After the Warriors advanced it got me thinking this current run they are on and a game that's played on ESPN, FS1 and nearly every other sports media website.
Are the Warriors overrated, underrated or properly rated?
It's a weird question to ask for a team that's won three of the last four NBA Finals and in position to be the first team to three-peat since the L.A. Lakers did it in 2000-03. But after watching them close out the Rockets, I feel like we're underrating the Warriors. Just a tad though.
Moving past all the typical clichés that Golden State "just wanted it more" or "champions just find a way to win." The Warriors make closing out playoff games look too easy. This entire series is an advanced class in how to close out games and it should be required viewing for younger basketball players.
Even in their losses during the Rocket series, the Warriors executed on both ends of the court to at the very least give themselves a chance. Well, there was that weird spot during OT of Game 3 that they just let the game's remaining 25 seconds run off the clock because Curry missed that dunk. But everything up to that point was terrific.
The Warriors offense has always been front and center, rightfully so. You watch them during the crunch time of games and guys are in their spot, they're aware of the shot clock and they adjust so quickly to what the defense is doing. Game 6, once Curry started doing Curry stuff, the Rockets started to trap him on screens. Fast-forward to just over three minutes left, Curry doesn't go hero ball with it, he dumps it to Green who faded on his screen. Green gets it around the free-throw line extend and as the Houston defense rotates toward his drive to the basket, he finds an open Keven Looney for an easy layup.
The Warriors took a 99-97 lead after that and never looked back. Those small plays where guys are looking for the best shot, regardless of who takes it, that's where Golden State is better than everyone else. Case in point, crunch time of Game 7 in the Sixers-Raptors series. There was a lot of pounding the air out of the ball, making a move, players realizing they've made a huge mistake and frantically looking for a teammate to bail them out, throwing a bad pass a teammate with three seconds on the shot clock. The Sixers were mostly guilty of this but on occasion, the Raptors did this as well.
Why I think the Warriors are slightly underrated is their defense. It gets overshadowed because of the long 3s and how quickly Klay, Steph or KD can catch fire; but their defense is outstanding. Thompson made life hell for Chris Paul when the game was on the line and Iguodala, while not the defender he used to be, was still savvy enough to pester Harden. Green is the defensive anchor, quarterbacking that end of the court for them. Even Curry has gotten better at fighting over screens and not getting trapped in those mismatches.
The Warriors defense is what kept them in these games and won the series for them. Even when their offense sputtered at times, the defense kept them within reach of the Rockets.
I do disagree with those saying this loss to the Warriors was worse than last year's. I'm sure it's a tough pill to swallow but getting beat at home in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals because you missed 27-straight 3-pointers, the bread and butter of your offense, is and will always be more devastating. Houston is a 3-point shooting team and last year at home went 7-44 from 3, missed 27-straight 3s and if they hit anywhere near their average they're in the NBA Finals. DEVASTATING.
A few weeks ago in Hear Me Out, I asked if the Warriors struggles against the Clippers was because they were going through the motions and playing a solid pesky team or if there was something fundamentally wrong with them. We got our answer after this series, the kings are the kings for a reason and it might take a superman effort from The Greek Freak to finally dethrone them.