The goal was huge: to get back to the top of the NBA mountain.
And now that this monumental task has been accomplished, the NBA champions Golden State Warriors already have a new goal: to stay there for a while.
Victory cigars have not been redeemed since the decisive victory in Boston, the last celebratory bottles of Moët & Chandon have not been emptied, and the topic is – can the Warriors win it again next season? — has already arrived. They were chosen by FanDuel Sportsbook as favorites for the 2023 NBA title, and with Finals MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green back, it would be foolish to think their chances of a fifth championship in nine years are not very good. real.
“So far, it has not been proven that when we are united, someone can stop it,” Greene said.
That’s true, and that’s why it makes sense for the Warriors to carry the burden of favorites next season. They know what it takes; they have as many championships in the last eight seasons – four – as the rest of the league combined. The last series that was better than this one was hosted by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, winning six times in an eight-year period in the 1990s.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr – now a nine-time champion – briefly played for the Bulls and led Golden State to all four titles.
“They are all unique. They are all special,” Kerr said. “I think that might have been the most unlikely thing in terms of where we’ve been the last couple of years. Lots of unknowns.”
Indeed, there were questions.
The warriors answered everything. No, the kernel was not too old. Yes, Thompson is back after more than 900 days of absence with injuries. And absolutely, Curry can still be unstoppable at the most important moments.
They took that core and fortified it with a new group of talents. Among those on this list: 27-year-old Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 No. 1 pick, who found himself and became nothing short of an NBA Finals star; Jordan Poole, who turns 23 this weekend and will celebrate as a champion who has blossomed after constantly battling Curry in training; and Jonathan Cuminga, a 19-year-old who has appeared in 86 games and is admired by teammates.
“And we’re not done yet,” Thompson said early Friday morning, speaking on Green’s podcast, The Draymond Green Show. “That’s the beauty of it. We have these young bucks behind us and we get the same team back? It’s scary for the NBA.”
Green agreed. “It’s very scary,” he said.
They deserved this championship moment after losing the 2019 NBA Finals to Toronto and then two seasons with an overall record of 54-83, a million miles away from the team the Warriors demand.
The Warriors had the worst record in the NBA in 2019-20, due in large part to staff turnover — Kevin Durant, who was out all season recovering from Achilles surgery, just left for Brooklyn — and injuries. Thompson did not play that season due to a knee injury sustained in the final game of the 2019 Finals. Curry only played five games. It was the year of the reboot.
The bounce was supposed to be last season, but Thompson had to sit out again, this time because of his own Achilles tear. The Warriors lost in the play-in tournament. But the seeds were planted for something great; how cool, even Golden State wasn’t sure, but Curry insisted something was brewing.
“You don’t want to see us next year,” Curry said as the 2020–21 season ended.
Thompson returned in January, and Golden State’s goal was clear – to win everything again. Over the past eight years, the Warriors have played 24 playoff series together with Curry, Thompson and Green. They have won 22 of them; with the exception of the 2016 and 2019 finals, when injuries took their toll.
This time the dubs were unstoppable.
“I saw it at the start of the season,” Thompson said. “People called me crazy. I said “Championship or elimination” because I saw us go out of the gate, 18-2. And playing exactly the Warriors basketball brand that made us so successful, and then knowing that I would be in it, I knew that we had a chance to do something special, and here we are. It’s so incredible. Wow.”
There are only three months left until training camp, so the process of preparing for the next season will begin sooner rather than later. The Warriors know they will be back in the NBA spotlight, playing many national televised games, getting the best shot from every opponent, getting huge attention wherever they go.
Everything will be like in the good old days. For many warriors, this will be the first time. For the old guard, a core of four-time champions like Curry, Green and Thompson, plus Andre Iguodala, if he chooses to delay leaving for another year, it will be familiar territory.
“I think this one is definitely different because of the three years of baggage we carried after that Game 6 in 2019,” Curry said. “I can say this now: I don’t know how many teams can handle this as long as we have the expectation to compare us now to the teams of the past and get back to the top of the mountain.”
His team did.
And next year they will try to do it again.
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