Kinks in the Armor of the Golden State Warriors?
*Photo via CBS
The pursuit of 73 wins has not come easy, as the reigning NBA Champions have met defeat by teams many thought would never have had a chance.
With that being said, which teams in the west have the best chance to dethrone the champs as we head into the playoffs?
First, what stars need to be aligned for the Warriors to lose a game? Not a series but a game. It will be a difficult task to have this team lose 4 out of 7 times against one team as they yet to lose a season series to anyone. But in their loses, there are a few common factors
Steph Curry has to shoot a bad game or the team has to have a lot of turnovers
Here are some stats from some of their losses this season that key in on that.
Spurs loss, Curry went 4-18 from the field
Wolves loss Curry went 7-25
Lakers loss Curry went 6-20 from the field and had 4 turnovers, Draymond Green had 7 turnovers and went 2-7
Celtics Curry had 9 turnovers and 9-19 shooting from the field.
So what will it take? Who will it be? Can anyone stand up and dethrone the mighty Warriors?
Here are some teams that pose the biggest threat
Oklahoma City Thunder
*Photo via Getty Images
If there is any team that can go shot for shot with the high powered offense of the Warriors it's the Thunder. We all know what the Warriors can do, and scoring quick and big is their strong suit. The Thunder, just happen to have multi-time NBA scoring champ and one time MVP Kevin Durant and one time scoring champ and triple double maestro Russell Westbrook. The offense and attitude must come from the leaders. In order to match and beat the Warriors, KD and Westbrook must meet and exceed their scoring averages. Not only that, they need to create for the other players on the court to ease the load and increase confidence of role players. Mix that with consistent defense and clutch performances, OKC has a strong chance to upend the Warriors in the Western Conference.
San Antonio Spurs
*Photo via USA Today
What seems to be the consensus favorite to give the Warriors the best run for their money, the Spurs had minor struggles closing late in recent games against the top seed in the West. In what would be a classic matchup on the court and a battle on the sidelines with student vs teacher in Kerr vs Popovich, do the Spurs have what it takes? The last two meetings it appeared that nothing went right for the Spurs and everything went right for the Warriors. Curry was amazing and could not be contained in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Even though the Spurs were not at full force, they seemed a bit exposed as they could not answer points to the Warriors or even slow the team and reigning MVP Stephen Curry down when it counted. You have to make stops and force turnovers against this team, while also limited your own turnovers as the Warriors have displayed elite ability to capitalize on the mistakes of their opponent. Perhaps playoff mode in San Antonio will spark what this team needs and experience will play its part and blend with the talent the Spurs possess. If and only then, will the great San Antonio Spurs have a chance.Elite defense, experience and leaning on the young shoulders of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will give the Spurs the best chance.
Los Angeles Clippers
*Photo via the Boston Herald
The good old division rival. The Clippers have always made it a point to play their hardest against the Warriors. But, can they get over the hill? Chris Paul is a tenacious competitor and veteran with a chip on his shoulder. He needs a definitive playoff victory to hush all whispers of him not being a winner. Does this team have what takes? DeAndre Jordan struggles to hit free throws and the half court offense has been in question when it counts. Also, to beat a team on the basketball court, you have to outscore them. I don’t know if the Clippers have the defensive keys to keep the Warriors at bay for victory. Everytime I watch this matchup, it seems as if the Clippers are playing their absolute hardest and the Warriors are treating it like practice. I don’t give them much of a chance at all. But, anything is possible in the NBA Playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers
*Photo via AP
Something like a darkhorse, when this team matched up with Golden State, they were able to put up some high scoring outings. The only thing is, they don’t have quality defensive players to limit the Warriors offense. Damian Lillard has the green light and this offense goes where he goes, so when he is hot this team will elevate their game. Clearly, they can keep up with the Warriors and score when needed. In fact, they can score high enough to scare the former champions as they have a regular season victory on Golden State. Do the Blazers have what it takes to score a playoff series victory? That remains to be seen. The strength in the Warriors is their leader, Curry, and the team play of the supporting cast. While Damian Lillard and the Blazers may be a Warriors-lite, the supporting cast isn’t strong or consistent enough to hang.