From the shoddy defense to the offense that can’t finish at the rim against the trees to the struggles of not-100-percent Stephen Curry, here we are: The 73-win Warriors, the greatest regular season team in NBA history, is on the verge of postseason elimination.
The 2015-2016 Warriors are one loss away from becoming the 2007-2008 New England Patriots. Those Patriots were the greatest regular season team in NFL history, but fell short in the Super Bowl against the NY Giants.
You could probably toss the 2005-2006 USC Trojans in there, too. They were being discussed as the Greatest Team in College Football history until they ran into Vince Young in the National Title game and lost to Texas, 41-38.
Yes, football’s one game, and anything can happen. And there have been massive upsets in NBA playoff history before – the Warriors stunning Dirk’s 67-win, #1 seeded Mavericks in the 1st round in 2007; the Pistons over the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals, an upset that ended the Kobe/Shaq dynasty – but neither of those upsets came against a 73-win, defending champ.
Hey, remember when Kevin Durant was going to leave the Thunder in free agency?
This is how bad it is for Golden State: Andre Roberson had 17 points, 12 rebounds, five steals, two assists and two steals in Game 4. He was the supposed weak link in the Thunder lineup, the guy to leave open. In pick-up basketball, he’s called self check. But it dawned upon him in this series to cut to the basket (how novel!) when nobody was defending him and he’s making layups because Russell Westbrook’s passing has been infectious.
What’s Steve Kerr to do? He’s made changes before – see not defending Tony Allen against the Grizzlies last year down 2-1; see putting Andre Iguodala on LeBron and going small against the Cavs down 2-1 – but this Thunder team is immensely more talented than either of those squads. Some advanced stats have argued this is the greatest team in franchise history, and that includes Seattle, which won the NBA title in 1979 and went to the Finals in 1996.
Only four teams in the last 20 years have overcome a 3-1 postseason deficit:
* 2015 Rockets – against the Clippers; needed a historical rally in Game 5
* 2006 Suns – Were heavy favorites against the Lakers, Kobe beat the buzzer in Game 4 for the 3-1 lead, but the Suns won two of the next three handily, and won Game 6 in LA in overtime
* 2003 Pistons – Tracy McGrady was unstoppable as the Magic grabbed a surprising 3-1 lead, but Detroit rolled in the next three games
* 1997 Heat – Deserves an asterisk because of a brawl in Game 5 that left the Knicks down several stars in Games 6 and 7.
Can the Warriors do it? I’ll be rooting for it to happen, but based on what I’ve seen, the Champs look dead.