SAN FRANCISCO – The NBA has been defined by equality this season.
After a decade that was defined by juggernauts and super-teams—the Lakers, the Heat, and eventually (and most notably) squads at Golden State—the league has happily accepted a post-war.
Ready to win the title this season. No one is a great team; No unavoidable force on the march to the final in June.
And yet it could be the Warriors who keep the trophy when this season ends.
Anyone who’s seen these dubs knows that this team is anything but unlike the squads from 2015 to 2019 that made up the NBA’s greatest dynasty of the 21st century.
No sir, these 2022 warriors are a little slow, a little slow, and not nearly as deep.
It’s a team that often flirts with mortality after this season – something that only came into a state of shock after losing their finals in 2016 and 2019.
But the Warriors have also flirted with greatness, sending small (and frustratingly short) reminders that no team in the NBA can match their ceiling.
It looks like no one, including the Warriors, knows which version of the team will appear on any given night. Often, we have seen both the squads in the same post-season game.
However, we do know that something must be working for them. Eventually, this squad is once again heading to the Western Conference Finals.
With Friday night’s Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors are four wins away from their sixth trip to the championship round in eight years, the last time by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
He closed Friday’s game and series with one of those bursts of excellence. He stopped rolling the ball, focused on defense, and hit a few big shots down the stretch.
Steph Curry, Drummond Greene and Klay Thompson once again looked like world-beaters.
This, after one game they were down by 55 points and lost by 39.
As tense as the journey up to this point has been, it cannot be overlooked how incredible the Warriors’ achievement of yet another trip to the West Finals is.
Yes, the Warriors came out strong in October, setting high hopes for the rest of the campaign, but it was ultimately a squad whose best players were on the court together for 0.02 percent of the season; A team that lost more games than it won after the NBA All-Star Game.
These Warriors entered the playoffs as an enigma. Any positive reputation of this team was forged either earlier this season or three seasons and an arena earlier.
They’re building a new reputation now:
They are basketball daredevils. Boom-or-bust artist.
They’re a hot mess, but it’s working for them.
Two series wins and only three losses, total – how can you argue with that in a results-based business?
And what’s to say that what the Warriors have done so far isn’t enough to win a title? That might be good enough to move on at all. Where the Warriors have made a mess, so have every other team that considers itself a contender for the title.
Don’t you just like the similarity?
In principle, the most difficult challenges of this team lie ahead. Either Dallas or Phoenix looms in the Western Conference Finals and the Eastern Conference could make a strong case for being the better half of the league this season.
But what if warriors stop being their own worst enemy?
What if they stop messing around and really find the harmony they’ve had since winter?
It is certainly not beyond their capabilities.
These warriors may be on edge now, but it cuts both ways – we’ve seen moments where this squad looks as powerful and decisive as those warrior teams that felt inevitable.
Yes, Golden State may have created enough self-inflicted wounds to end their season in a humiliating way, but like on Friday night, they could have played their best basketball at just the right time.
Call that late push delay or championship flair—all that matters is that these warriors are still playing ball.
And while the process of self-discovery can be painful to watch, the more these warriors play, the more opportunities they have to figure it out.