Stop the presses! Hold your horses! Katy, bar the door! What just happened?? The unthinkable has been thought, and the unimaginable has been imagined! The mighty Golden State Warriors are not the 2015-16 NBA champs; instead they are the team that will be remembered in one of NBA history’s greatest infamies, by setting the record for the most regular season wins at 73, with only 9 losses, and not winning the NBA Championship. The ironic thing here is; the Warriors were on both sides of the 3-1 game advantage in the same playoff season. In the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma Thunder, they were down 3 Games to 1, and came back to win that series. And then the disastrous NBA Finals where they held a 3 Games to 1 advantage and lost.
After a record-setting regular season where they broke the 1995-96 record of 72-10 set by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls (in which head coach Steve Kerr was a member), the stage was set for a repeat championship for the Warriors. Especially after their come-from-behind win in the Conference Championship against the Thunder. Unfortunately, the Warriors lost the NBA Finals in a nail-biting seventh and deciding game on their home court to the Cleveland Cavaliers 93-89. After Game 4’s win, the Warriors were one game away from repeating as NBA champs; holding what appeared to be an insurmountable 3-1 lead over the Cavs. But, the lesson for any future team vying for a championship is: You Must Win 4 Games Out Of 7, Not 3! The Warriors were relaxed and celebrating after the game 4 win, before several key circumstances changed the complexion and momentum of the series.
The first major setback was the suspension of defensive specialist Draymond Green, after his altercation with LeBron James in Game 4. This was followed by the season-ending knee injury in Game 5 to starting center and rim-protector Andrew Bogut. After realizing that the Warriors best defender in Green was out, and then no longer having to worry about a 7-footer to protect the rim, James and teammate Kyrie Irving made their living inside the paint, driving to the basket at every opportunity scoring easy baskets and getting to the free-throw line with regularity.
The Warriors lose Game 5 at Oracle Arena, which actually held the perfect circumstances for them to win the series; coming home with a 3-1 lead, to a rousing home crowd, and all the momentum in their favor. However, the Warriors found themselves heading back to Cleveland still holding a 3-2 lead, but even though Green would return to the lineup, they were not feeling so self-assured because of the momentum swing in the Cav’s favor. Green referred to himself as a "terrible teammate," in his first words after the suspension, adding; "I have strong belief that if I play Game 5, we win," he said. Not realizing at that time that his absence would ultimately cost them the series.
James and company were rejuvenated after winning on the Warriors court, gaining confidence and a renewed swagger that led them to a Game 6 win, forcing a deciding Game 7. Well, as they say; the rest is history. The Warriors never regained their footing in this series, lost their nerve and played scared the last two games. And no one can blame them, because they began to fear the worst, which was seeing their dream season end in a nightmare. Unfortunately, the fear was reflected in the way they played and with the added pressure of trying so hard not to lose, it was too much for the young Warriors to overcome. Game, Set, Match…