Warriors

Warriors

With their backs against the wall in the 2019 NBA Finals, the Warriors showed their championship heart, fighting and clawing to the very end of Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors.

But the injuries had built up, the effects of five straight trips to the Finals finally took their toll as the Dubs fell to Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors four-games-to-two. 

The feeling surrounding the 2018-19 Warriors wasn't new to head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr won three straight titles with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 90s, the last one coming courtesy of Jordan's iconic shot over Utah Jazz guard Bryon Russell in Game 6. 

That Bulls team, like last year's Warriors team, had nothing left to give. 

“I think the beauty of basketball is that every team has this life force within it and you can see it — it’s why I loved watching Brooklyn this year, they had this great energy about them,” Kerr told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck on "The Full 48 Podcast." “The difficult thing, whether it’s today or 25 years ago when I was playing for the Bulls, is to try and sustain it, because it takes so much energy, both physically and emotionally, to stay on top year after year after year."

"I would frequently relate back to my Bulls days, 1998 the last year of the three-peat, that team was running on fumes by the end. We beat Utah on the famous Michael Jordan shot where he pushed off on Bryon Russell, all that stuff. That team was just running out of gas. That’s how it felt for us this year."

 

“It was exhausting and we were running out of gas, and I think that’s just kind of inevitable,” Kerr continued. “The hardest thing I think for fans to truly understand is the amount of effort and energy it takes to do this year in and year out when you have 29 other teams coming after you with fresh energy. When you’re on the climb in this league, you can play every night and you can’t wait for the next game. When you’ve been in the Finals four straight years, it’s like, ‘Oh my god we have another game tonight?’ … To me, we were just exhausted last year, and we still had a shot. We were right there. So, ultimately, I’m incredibly proud of the guys and I could probably without hyperbole say that I’ve never been prouder of the team than I was after the Toronto series.”

With Kevin Durant rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 and Klay Thompson tearing his ACL in Game 6, the Warriors left everything on the floor for Kerr as their quest for a three-peat came up short. 

The Warriors underwent an offseason of change following their Finals loss. Durant, Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook all are gone. D'Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Jordan Poole, Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall are in.

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Kerr and the Warriors enter the 2019-20 season hoping to be re-energized this season after the crushing loss to the Raptors.

The roster change has led many to count the Dubs out of the championship picture, but it would be unwise to discount Steph Curry, Draymond Green and a motivated and refreshed Warriors team.