This is the Warriors era and there's not a damn thing the league can do about it

This is the Warriors era and there's not a damn thing the league can do about it

OAKLAND -- In the end, all the history talk was for nothing, and so was the angst when the history talk was extinguished. The Golden State Warriors won the NBA title expected of them, they firmly thumped the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James at the seeming height of his powers, Kevin Durant won the Most Valuable Player award expected of him, and all seems in balance – as it does when everyone who said this would happen in July turn out to be righter than they could have possibly imagined.

But being right by standing with the chalk is not in and of itself invigorating. In winning Game Five-And-Done Monday night in Oakland, 129-120, the Warriors essentially finished what will be remembered as their second season-long hand-ride in three years. They were actually forced to consider the inconceivable only once, after Cleveland routed them in Game Four of this series, and responded with a tough-minded and obstinate performance in Game Five.

And yes, that includes the final 3.4 seconds that were run off the clock after the Warriors had come off the bench to celebrate justifiably if technically prematurely.

Indeed, when David West pushed his nose into Tristan Thompson’s in a second quarter fracas-ette, he made a metaphor for the season and perhaps for the future as well.

Namely, that the best talent, the best plan and the spikiest exoskeleton wins every time.

And that was what the Warriors were from the moment they charmed Durant in July. They endured his 20-game absence, and Steve Kerr’s 11-game postseason symptom-fest from the back surgery that won’t go away. They endured taunts that they were the team that blew the 3-1 lead a year ago, and the scorn that comes from being the billionaire that wins the lottery.

And in a triumph of bullying by virtue of massive superiority, they took their massive chip lead to the final table and won all the pots.

Put another way, they were really good and a bit lucky two years ago if you want to acknowledge the six-ounce elephant in the room. This time they were all things to all opponents, as long as by “all things” you mean “that thing standing on my neck that I cannot dislodge.”

And what made this so delicious for them was the collapse of 2016, when they learned that thinking you’re invulnerable and being invulnerable are two very different things. The abuses they took were, by the frontier rules of modern culture, deserved. Great teams close out 3-1 leads, pure and simple, and that one didn’t.

This one did, because of Durant (39/7/5) and Stephen Curry (34/6/10) and the remarkable shape-shifter Andre Iguodala (20/3/3) and Draymond Green (12/12/5) and Klay Thompson, whose defense throughout the Finals transcended numbers, and West, who was, well, classic West.

This one did because early in the second quarter when Cleveland was feeling its most vibrant, the Warriors went on a 21-2 run that boa constricted the Cavs into a position it could not reverse. They tried, to be sure, and showed the healthy and aggressively thumping heart of a defending champion, starting of course with LeBron James (41/13/8), but cheating the house odds requires more firepower than they had, and less than the Warriors did.

In short, they spent all their available energy trying to repeat a history that was no longer available to them.

There are any number of ways to slap numbers onto this team, and that will be done soon enough. But this was a feel thing more than anything else, the same way that an stretch limo feels when you’re trying to lift it off the ground. This was a triumph for the eyes and the heart, especially when Kerr was semi-dragged to Doris Burke for the celebratory interview that he highlighted with the “We had very little talent, it was mostly coaching” line that got as many laughs as his homage to Mike Brown for covering him through the worst of his traumatic and ongoing post-surgical ordeal won applause for its graciousness.

There is a parade scheduled for Thursday. Between now and then the stories will be told of how this all happened even thought everyone already knows all too well. And after the parade, the narrative will shift to “So, what does the league plan to do about this?”

Right now, the only answer seems to be “not a damned thing.” Because that’s the only answer that makes sense. This is Golden State’s era, as long as it can defend it – for that is the only task left to the Warriors. To defend what they have won, lost and won again. To be what they were expected to be all along, exceed all expectations, and to repeat again and again what they have actually done.

Hey, it’s always good to have a goal. And then to beat it flat to use as a foundation for the next one.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.