Golden State Warriors previewed life after Kevin Durant, and it was superb

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Let’s all hope Kevin Durant will get wholesome within the subsequent week or so and continues what had been an unimaginable postseason run, one that might have obtained extra deserved acclaim if two contemporaries, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard, weren’t additionally on historic playoff marches of their very own. Durant is among the most electrical athletes in all of American sports activities, and the NBA is at its greatest when the perfect gamers are taking part in, irrespective of the circumstances.

That mentioned, if the Warriors’ unimaginable Sport 6 comeback to remove the Rockets on Friday was a preview of what a Warriors crew with out Kevin Durant might seem like within the years to return, let’s hope for that state of affairs.

We all know what a crew led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Inexperienced is able to doing. We watched it from 2014-16, till Golden State gave up a 3-1 result in lose the NBA Finals after a 73-win season. (Had you forgotten?) Durant joined the crew that summer time, so we solely received two actual magical seasons with the dynastic Warriors earlier than creating the hegemonic Warriors. However solely hardcore Golden State followers — and maybe not even them — would argue that the final three seasons with Durant have been extra entertaining than the earlier two seasons with out him.

Friday evening reminded us why. Stephen Curry went scoreless within the first half, however the Warriors saved up with the Rockets, owing to Klay Thompson’s chocolate milk swag and a few key contributions from Kevon Looney and Shaun Livingston. This was an essential ingredient in early dynastic Warriors historical past: enormous contributions from the non-stars, whether or not it’s David Lee serving to win a playoff sequence or Andre Iguodala successful a dang Finals MVP. Since Durant (and extra just lately, DeMarcus Cousins) arrived and the roster received costly, the Warriors’ bench has been depleted, so these heroic facet contributions have diminished. (Livingston had scored at the least 10 factors solely 4 occasions this season previous to Sport 6, when he scored 11.)

The power in numbers mentality is simply a part of it. That traditional Curry explosion within the second half — together with a number of daggers to plunge Houston into an extended, darkish summer time — was such a breath of contemporary air for all who’ve watched Steph battle by way of this postseason, catching criticism and doubt from each course.

Curry is among the greatest teammates within the league, it might seem, and has been remarkably light concerning the ongoing drama involving Durant’s future. It’s simple to think about his second half efficiency, amid a irritating sequence and after a extremely irritating first half, as a bit of non-public catharsis. It’s in Steph’s nature to talk with actions, not phrases. (This generally consists of talking with thrown mouthpieces and demonstrative ref taunting. Sainthood is overrated anyway.)

If Durant does decamp in July for New York or Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. (ha ha ha ha sorry couldn’t resist) or wherever else, the Warriors’ hegemony will finish. However the dynasty might proceed, if Curry is as as much as the duty as he gave the impression to be within the second half, and if Thompson re-ups his contract, and if Draymond Inexperienced recommits to being his greatest self, and if normal supervisor Bob Myers can discover paths to rebuilding the rotation round them, whether or not by way of holding DeMarcus Cousins or dealing a few of the older reserves for younger blood.

And even when the dynasty ends and the Warriors don’t win any extra titles after Durant departs, Friday’s Sport 6 confirmed that it ought to nonetheless be a helluva time.

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