The Warriors came into this season as such heavy favorites to repeat one would have had to bet $220 to win just $100 off what seemed like one of the most obvious bets in nearly two decades of NBA play.
Has anyone noticed what has been transpiring in Golden State as of late? Losses. The Warriors have now lost three out of their last four games and have looked pretty pedestrian in doing so.
This skid includes a blowout home loss to the Thunder without Carmelo Anthony for much of the game, and a 30 point thumping in Utah.
The defensive struggles have become a glaring issue as of late – they’ve fallen to 6th in defensive efficiency after being 2nd for much of the season – but that should not be their biggest concern. They are losing to the teams that matter.
Their losses to the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets (twice), Hornets, Kings, Pistons (pre-Blake Griffin), Grizzlies are nothing to be concerned about. What is alarming, however, is how they have played against the teams that have a prayer to stand in their way.
WithKawhi Leonard’s constant injuries this season, the two biggest threats in the West are the Thunder and Rockets, two teams they are now 1-4 against. But it is important to note, the one win came against a Rockets team absent of James Harden; (Kevin Durant was also out) making it really hard to draw any conclusions from.
In the other four games, they have looked like the inferior team every time. As for the two against the Rockets, it was not a case of boredom or disinterest in two highly competitive spectacles.
Regardless of what the Warriors do, the Rockets needs to be taken seriously and should absolutely be feared by Dub Nation. This year’s Rockets team is a similar story to the Warriors in 2014–15 that won it all. That’s when Stephen Curry won MVP; James Harden is the clear frontrunner right now.
The Thunder are not even in the same class as the Warriors as a team, but with Paul Georgeemerging as the best two-way player in the NBA along with the ultra-aggressive Russell Westbrook, this stars vs stars encounter has become personal. It is now clear the Thunder do not fear the Warriors and have the mindset they can beat them come playoff time.
If the season ended today, Warriors could potentially have to play the Thunder and Rockets before advancing to their fourth straight NBA Finals. Oh, and who are they most likely to play if so? The Boston Celtics, whom they went 1-1 against this season and very well could have lost them both.
The Golden State Warriors should still be the favorites, but combing their trends on the court, the rise of Rockets, the matchup with the Thunder, they have gone from prohibited to maybe slight.