The Golden State Warriors have become the epitome of the word TEAM. They have also gone from a team centered around the free-wheeling exploits of the league's reigning MVP, to the epitome of humble ballers working together to create a harmonious, interchangeable winning spirit.
They have advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs without the NBA’s most sweated player having anything to do with the team’s success outside of having the sweetest stroke of any cheerleader on the globe.
(Photo Credit: desertsun.com)
I told you last week that the Golden State Warriors would be fine in this series without Steph, who is nursing a sprained MCL for a few weeks.
However, even after surviving this first round, most prognosticators have chosen to ignore the extraordinary performances of Golden State’s “supporting cast” and basically bash the Rockets like dogs, as if Houston didn’t even show up to play. The team accomplishments of Golden State in Curry’s absence are still being ignored by national media in a very disrespectful way.
Instead of praising NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and his system, most NBA heads are crediting Houston for losing the series rather than giving Golden State credit for being the better team, with or without Mr. Meme.
Even the vaunted TNT crew, credited for having myriad personalities and opinions, hopped on the pack journalism freight train after this game.
Said Charles Barkley: "(Houston) has no passion whatsoever and that’s the one thing you can’t do in sports is go through the motions.”
Shaquille O’Neal added: “I think they’re definitely going to have to break this team up. They don’t have an identity. They don’t play together. They don’t stick up for each other.”
Contrary to popular reporting and social media spinning, Golden State is loaded with talent and veterans who know how to play basketball. With Curry, they are almost invincible because of the various dimensions he adds to their offense. Without him, however, they have already proved that they can make a deep playoff run.
Klay Thompson is proving that Golden State has two No. 1 guards in case people put too much stock in ESPN highlights and the NBA’s “Jordanizing” of its stars.
Thompson was very Curry-like as he made seven three-point shots and scored 27 points, lifting the Golden State Warriors to a 114-81 win in Game 5 and into the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Thompson became the first player in NBA history to make at least seven threes in consecutive playoff games.
It’s all relative.
When Curry is in the game, he takes shots from Thompson who can basically hit as many long range bombs as Curry can per game. With increased shot opportunities, Klay has let it be known that he can carry the backcourt scoring load with no problem and match Steph’s shooting efficiency on most nights.
While Curry sat on the bench in a brown sportscoat, Draymond Green was his usual Swiss-army knife self, adding 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Warriors, who will face the winner of the Clippers-Portland Trail Blazers series.
Upon learning of Steph’s MCL sprain, the player that immediately came to mind was veteran PG Shaun Livingston. His journey from high school to horrific knee injury and his journey back, re-inventing himself as a player and slowly regaining some of the lost confidence and explosion that plagued his career after that unexpected setback as a rookie, is the stuff of Disney movies.
With Steph out, Livingston finally gets his chance to start and shine in a playoff situation as a No. 1 guy. Playing behind Curry doesn’t afford backups a lot of opportunities, but we saw in last year’s playoffs and now in 2016, that Livingston is another sorely underrated player and major piece in Golden State’s almost perfect blend of ballers.
Livingston scored 16 points for his third double-digit performance in three games while starting in Curry's place this opening series. His multi-faceted game has been unleashed with more opportunity to display it.
In my opinion, this is the best thing that could have happened to Golden State, the NBA and fans who blindly misappropriate praise without really understanding the game.
It’s unlikely that Golden State will go all the way without Steph, but it’s cool to see the “other” guys who worked hard to achieve a 73-win season get to show their worth without the star shadow of Curry altering the narrative -- at least for one more series.