Playoff stars aligning for Warriors

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OAKLAND — I write with dangerous information for 29 NBA groups, and for his or her followers, and for individuals who wager on them to win the 2019 championship. It pains me to ship this information. I do know the league is extra attention-grabbing, and extra thrilling, when the trophy is up for grabs, and there have been moments this season when that appeared a chance. Not now.

The NBA common season wraps up Wednesday. The playoffs start Saturday. It’s cash time. And every little thing is aligning for the Golden State Warriors to put waste to the competitors once more.

Examine the scenario to at least one yr in the past. Most everybody thought-about the Warriors large favorites in 2018, too, however they weren’t demonstrating it in early April. They went 7-10 over their closing 17 video games final common season, and misplaced three of their closing 4. Among the defeats have been ugly. They misplaced by 20 factors at Indiana, and by 40 at Utah within the closing recreation on the schedule. The entire workforce regarded dispirited and out of sync, and coach Steve Kerr was overtly exasperated.

“Final yr we weren’t wholesome,” Kerr stated earlier than a recreation in opposition to the Nuggets on Tuesday. “Steph (Curry) was injured, missed the final, no matter it was — 17 video games, I feel. This yr we’re wholesome. So to me, we’re in a significantly better place this yr than we have been a yr in the past. The opposite factor that occurred a yr in the past is we have been out of the race for the 1 seed at this stage. We knew we have been gonna be the two for most likely the final 15 video games of the yr, and perhaps extra. So we didn’t have as a lot to play for.”

Kerr added: “I really feel significantly better this yr about every little thing than I did a yr in the past.”

His math was nearly proper. Curry missed the ultimate 16 video games of 2017-18 (plus the primary six playoff contests), and performed simply 2 minutes through the recreation wherein he sprained his ankle, at dwelling in opposition to the Spurs on March 8.

As everyone knows, the Warriors should not actually the Warriors when Curry isn’t on the courtroom. However his bum ankle wasn’t the one issue. Kevin Durant missed six video games in March of 2018, too. Klay Thompson missed eight, and Draymond Inexperienced 4. Andre Iguodala missed three in early March, then sat out the ultimate six video games of the common season.

The Warriors have been battered. And having breezed by way of the playoffs the previous yr, they seemed to be uninterested in their preparation in 2018.

It feels loads completely different this time round. The Warriors have gained six of their earlier seven video games heading into Sunday night time’s tilt in opposition to the Clippers, and the one failure was a controversially refereed time beyond regulation loss at Minnesota.

Past their current scores, there are different indicators pointing in the precise route for the Warriors.

One is DeMarcus Cousins. Golden State’s 6-foot-11, 270-pound heart is likely to be the biggest factor ever seen underneath the lens of a microscope. The sports activities world has watched Cousins’ each transfer this season — his grueling rehab from Achilles’ surgical procedure, his glowing Warriors debut, his regression as opponents started to assault him within the pick-and-roll. And, these days, his frequent domination of the put up.

Cousins scored a season-high 28 factors to go together with his 13 rebounds and 5 assists in opposition to Denver on Tuesday, totally outplaying the Nuggets’ All-Star heart, Nikola Jokic (10 factors, 5 rebounds, six turnovers). Cousins’ finest recreation in March was in opposition to the Rockets and their energetic heart, Clint Capela. You sense that he relishes the problem of a marquee matchup inside. The Warriors must be seeing a number of of these within the upcoming playoffs.

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