The Golden State Warriors are only going for a third consecutive NBA title because the Houston Rockets lost all ability to shoot three-pointers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last season. This takes nothing away from the accomplishments of Steve Kerr’s team, a dynastic juggernaut still atop the basketball world it revolutionized. It’s a pesky little pebble in the way we view them, though. It gets in the way of some of the awe and is therefore pushed to the side.
But it is instructive. Golden State can be slayed. If stabbed, the Warriors will bleed. We collectively forget this and pre-ordain them with the next championship. Occasionally, we are reminded.
For the second time in three chances, the Los Angeles Clippers stunned the favorites on their own court. Game 2 was an epic comeback. In Game 5, with the Warriors trying to close out the series, the visiting side was simply the better team.
Yes, that’s right. Another loss for the Warriors. If you’re scoring at home, they are now 0-1 in closeout games this postseason and 1-2 at home. Against a team far less talented than the ones they’ll conceivably face in the next two rounds.
Other teams see the mortality. They sense any blood in the water. The public and pundit class, however, seem to continue to go about their merry way, writing off all intrigue. So many still believe the Warriors are on an inevitable march.
Game 2 was spun as a “good loss.” It’s tougher to spin Game 5, but attempts are underway. Sanity dictates that Golden State will win either Game 6 or, gasp, Game 7 to earn a rematch with Houston. And betting against the champ is a tough proposition.
But perhaps the question is this: how many times do you have to see the Warriors to lose before you believe they can lose? At a certain point, what happens on the court — and the obvious fault lines — has meaning.
If your confidence hasn’t been rattled, you haven’t been paying attention.