Is There Still Hope for the Warriors?


For the millionth time, Chef Curry to the rescue. With the Warriors down eight points to the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks, Curry put on an absolute clinic, both offensively and defensively, to help the Warriors come back and secure the win in overtime. Yet again, the Warriors win at home, with a top-5 home record in the league. We all know the Warriors are absolutely formidable at home, but the problem arises when the Warriors leave the safe and sound borders of Chase Center and the San Francisco Bay Area. While a 28-7 home record is championship-caliber, a 7-26 away record certainly is not. However, there should be plenty of confidence that the Warriors are able to turn it up and win away games when it matters most. 

The first indicator that the Warriors can win away games when it comes playoff time is, simply, the Warriors' experience. No team in the NBA has the amount of playoff experience that the Warriors have, and we all know postseason experience is absolutely essential in the playoffs. When looking around the league, the top contenders, especially in the West, have barely any experience compared to the Warriors. The Kings are simply way too young and inexperienced, as all their starters have literally never played in a conference semi-final, the Grizzlies are also young and are dealing with off-court issues, the Nuggets are relatively inexperienced, and the Suns lack depth, with some of their stars proven to choke when it matters most. Experience is crucial when it comes to playing the same team 4 to 7 times, and the Warriors' staff and stars have proved that they are great at in-series adjustments. The Warriors have the 3-headed monster of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, who've played in more NBA Finals games than any other team's roster combined. There's also Andre Iguodala, the ultimate vet, and key pieces like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Andrew Wiggins, and Gary Payton II have already gotten NBA Playoffs and Finals experience in last year's run. Speaking of those players, let's transition into the second indicator: health

While most NBA teams, particularly championship contenders, have played, at some point in the season, at full strength, the Warriors simply have not. Mind you, playing at full strength for the Warriors means playing with Gary Payton II, who is expected to make his 2023 Warriors debut late in the regular season. We all know the tremendous effects that the beloved GP2 can have, both at the short-corner dunker spot on offense and most importantly, on defense, especially on the road. The Warriors have an atrocious defensive rating of 120.8 on the road, putting them 3rd-to-last, only in front of the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. To put the Warriors' road defensive issues in perspective, the Detroit Pistons, who have the best odds to land the number 1 pick in the upcoming draft, statistically plays better defense on the road than the Warriors. Along with the absence of GP2, the Warriors have been missing All-Star forward Andrew Wiggins for the past month, and it seems like whenever the Warriors get back a missing piece, another critical player gets injured. However, the trio of Curry, Green, and Thompson are as healthy as ever, and the only players the Warriors are missing are GP2, Andrew Wiggins, and Jonathan Kuminga. GP2 and Kuminga are expected to play sooner rather than later. Wiggins is the only wild card when it comes to availability, as we all hope that his family matters, first and foremost, improve before returning to action. However, these absences have also been a blessing in disguise, as they allowed key role players on the Warriors like Jonathan Kuminga and Donte Divencinzo to get more acclimated with the Warriors system while improving their game, which will certainly pay dividends when the playoffs come. 

The third indicator is the Western Conference's level of competition. This may seem like a juxtaposition when it comes to the Warriors' chances at repeating, but hear me out. Everyone within the top 10/11 can beat each other on any given day, and star-studded teams like the Mavericks and Pelicans are falling in rankings due to injury issues. With so many teams being formidable in the West, it is inevitable that some powerful teams will get knocked out in the first round, whether it's the Suns in a potential matchup vs the Mavericks, or the Kings in a potential matchup vs the Lakers, or even the Nuggets in a potential matchup against the Pelicans (it's important to note that the Pelicans were once the #1 seed when fully healthy, and Zion is expected to return before the Play-In). If some of the top teams get eliminated, and the Warriors remain in that 4-5 seed range or higher, then they'll get home-court advantage, and we all know how powerful the Warriors are at home, especially in the playoffs. 

However, the only thing the Warriors can, and should, do is to stay in the present, unbothered about the things that are beyond their control. Ultimately, the Warriors players and staff know the strength of their personnel and the level at which they can play, so they know that if they stay committed to the process and enter a new dimension of mental focus, a 2023 NBA championship is certainly possible. 

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