OAKLAND -- The Warriors plead ignorance to the general consensus that they can walk their way to the NBA Championship.
Never mind that they posted the best record, 67-15. Or have the most All-Stars, four. Or that the 15-1 record they posted over the final four weeks was tops in the league. Or that betting lines are fitting them for the crown.
They instead look at the playoffs, which for them begins Sunday at 12:30 against Portland, as a place where nothing is given. And nobody expresses that more emphatically than Kevin Durant.
“This is the NBA,” Durant said after the team’s final practice Saturday. “We don’t look at paper. We don’t look at who’s the underdog. We don’t look at any of that stuff. We know that we could be beaten any night.
“These guys are NBA players. It’s hard as hell to be an NBA player. It’s hard. It’s hard to be a playoff team. One through eight, it’s hard.
“It’s hard as s--- to be that. We know how tough it is.”
Durant and his teammates scoff at the notion the Trail Blazers are ripe to be swept in four games, and that any team they face is automatically overmatched, outclassed and, therefore, wasting its time.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Draymond Green said of being heavy favorites.
Perhaps because so many of them have experienced a 3-1 series lead devolve into devastating heartbreak. The Warriors fell behind 3-1 to the Oklahoma City and Durant in the Western Conference Finals last season before coming back to win three straight and the series. They then went up 3-1 on Cleveland in the NBA Finals before the Cavaliers came back to win it all.
There also is the knowledge gained from regular-season losses to such non-playoff teams as the Timberwolves, Heat, Lakers and Kings.
As confident as the Warriors are, the Trail Blazers’ ability to score has them on alert.
“We’ve got to respect them,” Durant said. “That’s just the name of the game. That’s what the game tells you what to do, is respect your opponent.
“We’ve got to go out there and play our game. We can’t expect to win because everybody else is expecting us to win, or because we had a better record or what looks good on paper. Everybody in here knows that. I don’t think we’ve even thought about us being, on paper, a better team.”