The Warriors were out for vengeance this year after watching their injury-ravaged 2020 go down the drain. If only it were that simple.
This season hasn't exactly been a smooth one for the Warriors. Steph Curry is an All-Star for the seventh time and playing at a MVP level, but inconsistencies have given Golden State an up-and-down first half. At the NBA All-Star break, the Warriors are 19-18, which is good for the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference.
If the season were to end today, they would be in the play-in game. That isn't exactly what they had in mind. That begs the question, what would Curry consider a successful season the rest of the way?
"We obviously have playoff aspirations," Curry said to reporters on Sunday morning. "We know when we get there, no matter what seed we have we're gonna be a tough out. It's just a matter of getting there and playing our best basketball towards the end of the season and the rolling the dice when we get there.
"That's the mission -- to keep progressing towards our best basketball in May, and let's see where we go from there."
Through 37 games, the Warriors still are a bit of a mystery. Curry has been dominant, averaging 29.7 points per game and shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc on 11.7 attempts. But with Klay Thompson missing his second straight season to another leg injury, it's anyone's best guess on any given night who will step up as Golden State's second scoring option. Sometimes it's Kelly Oubre, sometimes it's Andrew Wiggins. Sometimes it's neither.
They're in win-now mode but also grooming a 19-year-old center in James Wiseman. They want to be a contender but likely won't make a big move at the NBA trade deadline. One thing is clear, though: Curry likes the Warriors' chances as long as they can make it to the postseason.
And who can blame him. When Curry and Draymond Green are healthy, there haven't been many teams who can take them down, no matter who the Warriors surround them with. Their chemistry at this point is unmatched, but Curry can't be the only one getting buckets on a nightly basis.
The Warriors open the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. That's three of the top four teams in the West right now. It'll be a big test but a good measurement of what this team is for the rest of the season.