Golden State Warriors trek to repeat will face a lot of turbulence

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 16: Stephen Curry
OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 16: Stephen Curry /

The Golden State Warriors are finding out that becoming a dynasty is going to be harder than they expected.

We’re a few weeks away from the start of the playoffs and the Warriors are in an unfamiliar situation.

Well, at least by their standards.

They will not finish with the best record in the league, they will not have home court advantage if they get to the Western Conference Finals, and they might not have it if they manage to reach the NBA Finals. Golden State might not have the services of Stephen Curry until the second round, and perhaps worst of all, they will have to deal with the unknown and the uncertainty of what might happen in the postseason for the first time in a couple of years.

Due to a number of unfortunate occurrences, the Warriors look as mortal as ever and as beatable as they’ve been since they started this golden run of championships.

Sure, their regular season record will not reflect how good they are. The Warriors entered Saturday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings having lost seven of their last 10 games because they’ve been relegated to trotting out their junior varsity squad. Injuries have forced head coach Steve Kerr to dial back the clock to the Chris Cohan era.

But that still plays into the narrative that the Warriors are looking vulnerable. They only have a handful of games for Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to find a rhythm after coming back from their injuries, while Curry will have to re-enter the fray in the midst of the playoffs.

Even in an otherwise satisfying win over the Kings on Saturday, the game was overshadowed by Patrick McCaw’s devastating injury. It doesn’t seem like there was intent on Vince Carter’s part, but that doesn’t help McCaw or the Warriors’ situation much. This kind of stuff has kept coming up for the Warriors.

That has been the theme of this season: Yeah, it’s been good — but…

Unfortunate injuries are one thing, but one could say the Warriors’ misfortunes started on opening night when they received their championship rings before proceeding to fall flat against the Houston Rockets at home. All season long they have lacked the sense of urgency that they had in previous years, and they’ve been far too comfortable and complacent at times.

Who could blame them? In 2015, they were an upstart team, eager to prove themselves as a formidable championship contender, and they did that when they toppled LeBron and the Cavaliers. In 2016, they wanted to show they weren’t a fluke and that a jump-shooting oriented team could sustain winning. When that didn’t go according to plan, they signed Kevin Durant and were as motivated as ever to redeem themselves in 2017.

Related Story: Who is the Worst Matchup for the Warriors in the Playoffs?

In 2018, there has been no such motivation. It goes to show just how hard it is to sustain winning in sports, no matter how talented a team is. Winning a championship is like climbing Mt. Everest. You work hard, you persevere through the struggles and put 100 percent effort into reaching the top. And once you do, you feel accomplished, like your task is complete.

But it’s not enough to just climb it once. In sports, there’s always a next season, always another mountain to climb.

This is where the Warriors are now. They have reached the summit twice under different circumstances. Now they are making the trek again, and it is going to be a hard final stretch.

HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 20: James Harden (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 20: James Harden (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

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They’re going to have to start with finding some kind of motivation because everyone else seems to have one. The Rockets are in the same position as the Warriors were back in 2015, looking to finish off what has been a spectacular regular season with a championship. Teams like the Thunder and Timberwolves changed up their rosters just to compete with the Warriors, and you know they didn’t do all that to lose in the first round.

The Warriors are a far cry from the cute little success story they were three years ago. They are not the team that won 73 games, and they are not the team that was playing with Kevin Durant for the first time.

Unless there’s another KD-like acquisition looming (which would be hard to conceive), this is the established Warriors team, and it is somewhere between a great team and a dynasty.

It’s why dynasties are so hard to come by. Sustained success means overcoming that target on your back, getting every team’s best shot every night and fighting through the wear-and-tear of playing deep into the postseason again and again.

Next: How Far Can the Warriors Go Without Steph Curry?

The Warriors are the most talented team in the NBA. They are still prohibitive favorites to win the title, and anything less would be a gigantic letdown. But it’s easier said than done, as this season is turning out to prove.