The NBA Season is becoming less and less irrelevant from the regular season, and has heated up as playoff time begins. Every team has had a chance to show what they can do in the regular season, but the post-season is a completely difference specimen.
With every team demonstrating their strengths, weaknesses, and style of play, its time to evaluate each team and how they will fare in the postseason.
Starting with Golden State, the Warriors have taken the league by storm. In the past, viewers have seen glimpses of greatness, but not over a consistent basis. In fact, over the past two years, the Warriors have finished in the 6 spot (Which is still very impressive in the western conference). However, in 2014-2015, the Golden State Warriors led by new head coach, Steve Kerr, have remained consistent and proven to be one of the top teams in the west. The Warriors sit at the 1 spot in the west and have proven to be dynamic and exciting throughout the entire regular season.
In the post-season, I have few doubts and I am expecting no upset in the early rounds for Golden State. However, within saying the following statement, I do see some possible holes in the Golden State line up.
In the past, history has proven that teams can't live and die by the three and win Championships. Sure the Miami Heat were a three point team, who were consistently near the bottom in 2 point attempts, but the Miami Heat had someone by the name of Lebron James. The Warriors don't have the luxury of having the best player in the world. Not to mention. Lebron was not a heavily reliant three point shooter, but was one of the best post up men in the league. The Warriors, on the other hand, have chosen to start Draymond Green over David Lee for the majority of the season (According to CBS). I understand the line up change, but worry that the Warriors will glue to the three point line, and develop no post up game. Andrew Bogut is no where near being a great post up man, and David Lee is averaging 8 points a game - clearly demonstrating the Warriors distance from the post up game.
Look back the past 10 years, and every team can shoot three's, drive, and have a post up game. Continue on past the ten years, and I guarantee the pattern continues. The Warriors can shoot, drive, but have no post up game. In the east, looking at the Cavs, they can shoot threes, drive, and post up - They're set offensively (They just need to continue to calm the critics claiming poor chemistry).
To go along with no post threat, the Warriors worry me when it comes down to the stretch of important games. Every Championship Team, over the past 10 years, had one player that was reliable and efficient when taking over playoff games. The Warriors do have play maker in Stephen Curry, but I don't see him being compared to Lebron, Duncan, or Kobe anytime soon. Curry is a great play maker throughout the regular season, but I still doubt his ability to be efficient in the games closing moments of a playoff game -when the defense locks down and forces difficult shots (That generally bigger, stronger, tougher men finish). If someone takes the time to look back on Curry's key playoff losses, the reader will find his shooting percentage to be much less efficient when compared with the victorious players shooting percentage. In 2013, the Warriors lost game 6 to the San Antonio Spurs - Curry shot 40% from the floor, while Duncan (Spurs leading scorer) shot 56% percentage. In 2014, in the game 7 loss to the Clippers, Curry shot 41% from the floor, while Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul all shot over 50% from the field.
Adam Lauridsen of NBA.com has my back on this weakness:
"Biggest weakness is late-game offense. When opponents lock down and crowd Curry in crunch time, it's unclear who takes the big shots in his place. Thompson still isn't great at creating his own shot off the dribble, Lee struggles in late-game situations and Iguodala is notoriously streaky. This might be where Barnes distinguishes himself, but his injury has held him back in this young season. Last year Jarrett Jack was there to step up when Curry was swamped. With Jack gone, the Warriors are still searching for someone with his assertive confidence and ability to create for himself."
However, I give credit to Stephen Curry in 2014 against LAC. In the 4th quarter, Curry shot 50% from the field, and making 9 of 9 free throws, and nearly won the game for Golden State. The game, and especially the 4th quarter, against one of the elite defenders in the league truly gives me and Golden State fans hope for the future.
Overall, the Golden State Warriors are one of the elite teams in the NBA. Number one, they are great offensively - with one weakness with no post up game. Number two, the Warriors have very good defense (11th in opposing points per game), which has been proven to be enough to win Championships (Spurs and Heat from 2012-2014 were consistently between 4th to 8th in overall defense). Finally, Golden State can rebound, pass/play as a team, and have experience playing together.
The Golden State Warriors are a great team with high expectation, and will deliver in the playoffs. I don't see them winning the Championship, but then again, I have no sight of any first or second round upsets.