An NBA record 73 wins last year (albeit with a championship loss that far too many internet commenters like to mention), on pace for 70 wins again (which would be the first time in NBA history with back to back 70 win seasons), yet nothing to show for it.
With one of the most talented teams in NBA history, including two time MVP Stephen Curry, recent free agent signee and former MVP Kevin Durant, sharpshooter Klay Thompson and perennial DPOY candidate Draymond Green, the Warriors look poised to dominate the league.
That’s where the problem lies: with four all-star caliber players. They’re expected to win and anything less than a championship can be considered a failure. That’s immense pressure to put on any team, especially one that will probably have to face one of the best players in NBA history, LeBron James, in the NBA Finals.
We can draw a parallel between these Warriors and LeBron’s Heat in 2012. LeBron left Cleveland to join up with superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, and everyone was talking title. With big stars, however, come big egos, and there were some rough patches in the season for them. Still, they advanced their way through the playoffs and went up against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals. If the Heat were to win, everyone would say that’s expected of them because of all their talent, and there wouldn’t be much praise. If the Mavericks were to win, the Heat would be lambasted and critiqued, which is exactly what happened.
The Warriors may suffer the same fate as they did last year: being the favorite and not winning. But this year seems different. Players are more confident, there’s almost no locker room turmoil and they’re blowing teams out on a nightly basis. Coach Steve Kerr no longer has to worry about chasing a win total record – they already have that. He can focus on resting guys when they need it, figuring out different lineup configurations and keep his players focused on the main goal: winning a title.
The biggest problem for the Warriors is more of an unfamiliar foe – themselves. As we saw last season, the Warriors are an unbelievable basketball team, and they know it. That’s where some problems came into play. Their knowledge of their greatness led to some tendencies where they got too comfortable in games and let a lead slip away, or where there was some sloppy play due to their overconfidence.
They have the talent and the coaching to reach heights only achieved by a select few in league history, but it’s all a matter of mental toughness.
And, well, stopping LeBron wouldn’t hurt, either.