The mantra all season for the Warriors has been just get to the postseason, and now that moment is finally here.
It’s been a surprisingly tumultuous regular season for this usually unified organization.
But now, with their first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers on the doorstep, all the questions about free agency, Chase Center openings and complacency fade. The one thing on their collective minds now is hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy for the third straight year.
These two teams just met less than a week ago, but this will only be the second postseason matchup for them in NBA history.
That was before Steve Kerr patrolled the sidelines—and in fact, was the series responsible for kickstarting this Warriors dynasty.
The Lob City Clippers knocked off Mark Jackson‘s Warriors 4-3, which made Bob Myers and the front office reevaluate Jackson’s position, subsequently fire him, and you know the rest.
So it’s only appropriate that Golden State plays the team that beat them to start their dynasty, in what could be their last season in this iteration of the dynasty.
But for now, the dominant core has at least one more run in them.
The Warriors big man has been waiting nine seasons for his first taste of playoff basketball.
What made his torn Achilles even more painful was that it robbed him of his first playoff game with the New Orleans Pelicans last season. Now his debut comes as the starting center on the title favorites.
Cousins is sure to be extra hyped for this first series, but that can either work for or against the emotional big man and the Warriors.
That emotion could easily lead to some early foul trouble, and with that comes the outbursts at the refs—especially in an emotional game like this.
Some people play better when they are angry, Draymond Green for instance. Cousins’ anger, on the other hand, usually manifests itself in careless fouls and some sulking.
But we’ve seen what happens when he channels his emotion instead of letting them run wild.
Each game he’s played against a top tier center he’s been on a singular mission to abuse them and remind everyone how good he was before the injury.
Quinn Cook has been on a scoring tear recently, looking reminiscent of the player he was last year when the Warriors heavily relied on him during the first couple rounds of the playoffs.
He’s going to need to ride that momentum into the postseason again as he’s essentially the only bench scorer the team has.
Iguodala and Livingston will be their usual steady presence, but scoring is neither of their forte.
And while it would be impractical to ask Cook to match the production of super-sub Lou Williams, the Warriors are going to need some semblance of scoring from him to at least keep the bench scoring close.
Williams always kills the Warriors, and averages 17.8 points per game against them for his career, which is the third highest scoring average against a single team.
The starters can and will do the heavy lifting, but the games they have trouble in are when the bench gets completely dominated by the opposition.
And with Williams on the opposite sideline that’s always a threat.
Matchup to Watch
On the stat page this is an uneven matchup and will almost assuredly play out as such.
But this isn’t about this series, this is about the impact it could have going forward.
Curry is coming off a mild sprained ankle, and you can bet Beverley is well aware of that, so don’t be surprised if he tests his change of direction speed or tries to get in his head with some hard close outs.
Beverley is a rugged defender and is always physical when he’s matched up with Curry.
While that hasn’t led any of his teams to victory over the Warriors, it’s never a fun series for them.
Don’t be surprised if Curry picks up a tech during this series, but as long as he can stay healthy, that’s a matchup win.
Key Warriors reserves
It’ll be on these two to log basically all of the backup center minutes, and when they’re out there, they will have to keep Montrezl Harrell off the glass.
Harrell had a career year across the board with 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
He’s a constant ball of energy when he’s on the court, relentlessly attacking the boards. Those type of bigs always seem to give the Warriors fits, and can be absolute momentum killers.
Kerr always talks about the need to limit offensive rebounds and take more shots than the opposition, and that’s exactly what Looney and Bogut will be depended on to do.
Because the only way to overcome the huge talent gap the Warriors enjoy, is to shoot more shots than them.
A Warriors sweep with a handful of techs thrown around on each side.