The Golden State Warriors’ big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green took the court together for the first time in more than 1,000 days on Monday night. What’s that saying about riding a bike? The Dubs looked impressive in their 126-112 victory over the Washington Wizards. But more important, there was a flow to the offense and a connectivity with the defense that had been missing since Green was sidelined with an injury in January. Now the Dubs are a legit threat to win the NBA title.
“Whether we’re the No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed, we’re going to win a championship,” Green told NBC Sports Bay Area after the game. “Don’t really matter. I called it months ago.”
Tough talk from the three-time champion. But he has every right to be confident in what the Dubs can do. They have the pedigree and have proved it on the biggest stage.
But his return is also vital to the play of Curry. For the Warriors to be legitimate title contenders, Curry has to play like he did over the first 20 games of the season, and closer to his MVP level.
Steph Curry's stats:
1) With Draymond (34 games)
2) Without Draymond (29 games)
Nos. reflect the following:
– Steph having to handle most of the playmaking responsibilities w/o Dray lowered his scoring rate
– Lower usage w/o Dray
– *Slightly* better scoring efficiency w/o Dray pic.twitter.com/CIJp0spVx1
— Joe Viray (@JoeVirayNBA) March 16, 2022
Curry is having one of his poorest seasons as it relates to efficiency with an eFG% of 55 and TS% of 61. His FG% is a career low 43 and his 3P% is also a career low at 38. He will need to be around his career averages for the Dubs to be elite.
Thompson will also have to regain his shooting tough. He is having his worst season in terms of efficiency at 51, 54 in eFG% and TS%, respectively.
FiveThirtyEight projects the Warriors to finish with the third seed in the Western Conference, with a 9 percent chance of making the Finals and a 3 percent chance of winning.
If the seeds hold, the Warriors would play the Denver Nuggets in round one. A Nuggets team with possibly the reigning two-time league MVP in Nikola Jokic and possibly Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Not an easy first-round matchup.
Assuming the seeds hold true to form they would play the Memphis Grizzlies in the conference semis. A Grizzlies team that beat the Warriors in the play-in tournament last season and are 2-1 against the Warriors this year.
The playoffs are the playoffs and the Warriors are who they are, but there’s not an easy road to the conference finals. Where they would likely face the Phoenix Suns.
The Warriors are ranked second in aNET rating, with the 11th-ranked offense and second-ranked defense in the league. They are legit. But the playoff margins are small, and they’ll have to be better in the critical moments.
History says they will. But remember, no championship team has that “it” or “clutch” factor until they actually win the championship. Before 2015 the Warriors didn’t have it. But then they found it. Before 2021 the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have it, until they did.
Experience in these scenarios matter. But just like anything else, past performance isn’t necessarily indicative of future results.