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With the dust having settled on the 2018-19 season, the draft having taken place and free-agency about to tip off Sunday night, let’s take a look back at our season previews and whether each was a slam dunk, a mid-range jumper or an airball.
Today, the Golden State Warriors.
Season Outlook: The Warriors have the most difficult act in The Association to follow — their own. Having won back-to-back NBA championships and three in the last four seasons, Golden State has firmly established itself atop the mountain, a perch from where it continues to kick any and all challengers to the bottom. All of that having been said, the Warriors were quite possibly only a pulled hamstring away from being catapulted off their lofty perch in the Western Conference Finals. When Chris Paul of Houston suffered an injured right hamstring in the final minute of a Game 5 win to give the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the series, many believe it saved Golden State from being eliminated. What did the Warriors do to make sure they are not in that position again? Well, they signed All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal. Golden State’s surplus of riches allows Cousins, a four-time All-Star, to work his way back at his own pace after tearing an Achilles’ tendon last season.The Warriors also added athletic 3-point shooter Jonas Jerebko to their frontcourt and took 6-foot-6 swingman Jacob Evans out of Cincinnati in the draft. Still, it starts, and ends, with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and now, Cousins. For the Warriors, it’s championship or bust. And they again really have to like their chances.
The Season: It’s ironic, a season that featured a fifth-straight trip to the NBA Finals was a disappointment, but that’s what takes place when the bar it set at championship-or-bust, which certainly was the case for the two-time defending champions. Despite having all but Cousins available for the bulk of the season, Golden State finished with “only” the third-most wins, 57. However, that all changed as Durant suffered what was announced as a bruised calf muscle in the second-round takedown of Houston and did not play again until Game 5 of the Finals. In that game, after a hot start, Durant blew out an Achilles’ tendon, which will all but assuredly force him to miss all of next season. Then in Game 6, in what proved to be the final game at Oracle Arena, Thompson suffered a torn ACL, which puts his 2019-20 season very much in doubt and the Warriors’ rule atop the NBA was brought to an end by the Raptors.
Our effort: Pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff. It says here, not that it matters, Golden State would have threepeated without the injuries to Durant and Thompson. No one feels sorry for the Warriors, though, and they shouldn’t. Any GS backers who believe an asterisk should be placed next to Toronto’s title have awfully short memories. Remember 2015, when the Warriors took on LeBron James and… well, not Kyrie Irving (after regulation in Game 1) and Kevin Love (for the entire Finals), yet it still took them six games to fell the Cavaliers?