While it's true the Warrior choked away last year's Finals of the NBA, perhaps it's understandable in hindsight. Already up 3-1 with a chance to put the series to bed at home in Game 5, they found themselves without the services of one Draymond Green. Dear Draymond had finally been rightfully suspended for all those thunderous groin kicks he had delivered to opponents, notably poor Steven Adams -- who may or may not have returned to his usual tenor from the soprano he had been turned into.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would win that game and the momentum turned. Game 6 in Cleveland was no surprise as the Cavs won again. But anything can happen in a Game 7, and the Warriors never did seem to recover from the devastating Game 5 loss. Down they went, best regular season record of all time notwithstanding.
In the off season, Golden State somehow managed to acquire the services of one Kevin Durant, a superstar by any measure. Of course they had to sacrifice a lot of very good "role" players to fit KD into the salary cap structure. If not formidable before, surely they were downright scary now.
Sure enough, even give a couple of head scratching losses -- getting trashed by 20 by the woeful Lakers? -- the Warriors were back on another roll.
And then Durant went down with a knee injury. Many, including yours truly, thought that could spell big trouble for the boys from Oakland. After all, those pesky San Antonio Spurs, a perennial model of excellence themselves, remained quietly nipping at their heels. With KD out of action, it would have surprised few if Coach Pop's boys down in Alamoland overtook the Warriors for the best overall record.
Yet the Spurs have suffered a few strange losses as well, while the Warriors regrouped and went back on another tear -- sans KD.
The upshot in GS has wrapped up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Is this a guarantee of another championship? No way. They were supposed to cruise to it last year but, as mentioned above, it didn't work out that way.
Still without Durant, the Warriors have rattled off a 13 game winning streak. Their last three regular season games are at home against teams one would think they'd defeat easily. Yet that doesn't matter. Having secured home court, they can rest players to get them ready for the playoffs -- and likely will.
And guess what? Durant's knee owie appears to have healed enough to make him healthy to play, right in time for the playoff run.
It's actually quite a dilemma. How can a guy, despite being their leading scorer and rebounder until he got hurt, improve a team that's won their last 13 in a row and appears to be unbeatable of late?
Then again, what team WOULDN'T want Durant in their line-up? The dude's still a superstar.
Sure, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson remain sharpshooters and Draymond does his usual dirty work while others contribute in their own ways. No one can doubt it's added up to great success.
But how the re-addition of KD to the line-up will affect the "chemistry" remains to be seen. He's going to want the ball a lot, which means others won't get to touch it as much.
This could turn out REALLY good -- or maybe not so good.
And wouldn't it be something if, after all the hype of Durant joining this team, they turned out to be better playing WITHOUT him than WITH him?
Who could have ever imagined that indeed?
Not likely, but not impossible either.
Given they once again have the best record and home court advantage throughout, if the Warriors fall anything short of another championship -- there will be those that start to ask a lot of tough questions about the presence of Kevin Durant.
And good luck answering them if that happens.....