The Golden State Warriors are on the brink of being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals, but where has it gone all wrong for the reigning NBA champions?
The Warriors set numerous records during the regular season, including the best start in NBA history and the best record in an NBA season, and were subsequently backed to retain their NBA title.
However, they now find themselves 3-1 down against the Oklahoma City Thunder and are just one game away from seeing their dream of being crowned NBA champions for back-to-back seasons go up in smoke.
So, what factors have left the Warriors’ playoffs hopes dangling by a thread?
1. Thunder have kept Draymond Green quiet
Green has been instrumental to the Warriors’ success this season as he has done everything on the floor from scoring points to grabbing rebounds to dishing out assists. In fact, he was the second on the list for most triple-doubles this season with 13 and only trailed Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 18.
Green hasn’t looked himself in this series as he is only averaging 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists, which is a far cry from what he is accustomed to doing on the court for the Warriors. Furthermore, Green has been the centre of controversy as he clocked Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin twice and was subsequently handed a $25,000 fine.
Should the Warriors want to have a chance of pulling off an incredible come-from-behind series win, Green will have to pull his socks up, leave the controversy in the past and regain his form.
2. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant
Westbrook and Durant have been all over the Warriors in the Eastern Conference Finals series and have made their presence felt in all four games thus far.
Westbrook has been averaging 27.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 11.8 assists and 3.8 steals in the series, while Durant is averaging 28.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
The dynamic duo have looked a class above the Warriors’ danger pair of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and if this trend continues, it will be game over for the reigning NBA champions.
3. Stephen Curry has not been dominant
Let’s face it, we have become used to Curry stealing the spotlight with his dazzling moves and jaw-dropping shots, but while the reigning NBA MVP has shown glimpses of that this season, it hasn’t been enough.
Curry hasn’t seemed the same player since he sprained his MCL in the Warriors’ first round meeting with the Houston Rockets. While the 28-year-old rushed to get back on the court, he admitted that he still has pain in his knee.
Despite that, he still hasn’t given up on the Warriors’ chances of making it to the NBA Finals, saying: “The series isn’t over. We’ve got to believe in ourselves. There’s obviously frustration. It’s a terrible feeling once again not stepping up and being ourselves and playing our game.
“But I think we’re a special team. This isn’t how we’re going to go out.”
Curry definitely has the right mindset, but he will now have to put his words into action as the Warriors face a near impossible task of conquering and silencing the Thunder.