The Golden State Warriors are having an historic season. They have an opportunity to surpass the 1995-96, Michael Jordan led, Chicago Bulls for the best regular season record of all time. Additionally, Steph Curry has set another record for 3-point shots made in a season. The team is formidable mainly due to the fact that Curry and Klay Thompson are ranked one and two respectively in total 3-point shots made in the NBA this season, and Draymond Green is capable of dropping a triple double every night. They fueled speculation that they would shoot for this record when they started the season 24-0, an NBA record to start a season. The list of accomplishments for this team goes on and on. They are one of the greatest regular season teams in NBA history.
They are also in the midst of their roughest stretch of the season. They have recently lost to cellar dweller teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes and Shaun Livingston have all missed time with injuries. Their coach is having his own injury issues as well, and has required Luke Walton to step in. There is some turmoil going on in the bay area, home of the defending champs, and if you think they are a lock for another NBA Title you might be in for a sad reality check.
As talented as the Warriors are, and they are extremely talented, there is cause to pause when we start thinking about them repeating as champs. The Western Conference is loaded once again this year, and the LeBron led Cleveland Cavaliers are hellbent on getting revenge for last season's championship series when two of their big three went down with injuries.
Las Vegas still has the Warriors as the odds on favorites to be champions come June, but after seeing the 15 reasons why they won't be, you just might want to book yourself a ticket to Sin City and throw down some big bucks on the field, instead of the Warriors.
15 End Of Season Struggles
The Warriors have recently dropped games to the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, and Timberwolves. Losing to the Spurs is not a big deal, and the Celtics are a playoff team so that too can be excused, but losing to the second worst team in the NBA (the Lakers), and another lottery team in the Wolves is unacceptable for this Warrior team heading into the playoffs. Maybe that won't mean anything come playoff time, but they're not exactly peaking at the right time.
14 Emergence Of Kawhi Leonard
The Spurs newest superstar Kawhi Leonard, has become the best two-way player in basketball over the past two seasons. With his emergence as a lock down defender, the Warriors, and Draymond Green more specifically, are in for a much tougher challenge than they have ever faced before. Leonard did a number on the Warriors in the teams' last meeting, when he limited Green and Curry' production during his time guarding them. This will be an issue for the Warriors, as they will most likely end up having to go through San Antonio, to go back to the finals.
13 Coaching Uncertainty
Steve Kerr missed the first 43 games of the season this year, and has had constant concerns about the complications from his off season back surgery. The looming threat of coach Kerr potentially being forced to miss playoff games is just another thing that the Warriors have distracting them from the task at hand. Not to mention the negative effects of Kerr being gone, this issue is something that could stick with Golden State as long as Kerr is their head coach.
The Warriors owner Joe Lacob recently said in an interview, “We're light years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we're going to go about things, we're going to be a handful for the rest of the NBA to deal with for a long time.”
Draymond Green has said things that make it clear that the Warriors are just waiting for the regular season to be over.
Things like this are not what you want to hear if you are a Warrior fan. These types of comments are arrogant, and it makes it look as if they don't consider the regular season a challenge at all. This attitude will likely come back to bite Golden State when the hungry teams in the Western Conference come to knock them off their perch.
11 Physicality Of Playoff Basketball
Once we get into the playoffs, the physical nature of each game amplifies by a large degree. With the reputation Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have built for themselves, they can anticipate a very physical defensive approach this playoff season. There will be no more open lanes for Curry to drive down for open lay ups. Expect to see teams put some hard fouls on the splash brothers during the playoffs. When it becomes a best of seven series, teams will be looking to grind down the high powered, up tempo offense of the Warriors, by any means necessary.
10 Team Health Concerns
So far this season Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut have all missed time due to injury. Going into the playoffs, teams look to get healthy before things ramp up. We have seen the Thunder rest Kevin Durant, the Cavs rest LeBron, and the Spurs have rested all of their starters in multiple games. The Warriors on the other hand, in pursuit of the all-time regular season record, have not been resting their stars, and that could come back to haunt them come playoff time.
9 Lack Of Size
The Warriors are a jump shooting team, that is no secret, and they are very good at it. They have what they refer to as the line up of death, which consists of Draymond Green at the center position surrounded by four athletic shooters. That roster is a potent line up that can match any athletic line up in the NBA. However, the Warriors, with the loss of David Lee, lack the ability to go big with teams such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland. It will be a tough task for Andrew Bogut and Dreymond to match some of the lineups they will encounter as they go deeper into the playoffs.
8 Reliance On Steph Curry
Steph Curry is most likely on his way to his second straight league MVP Award, and it's well deserved, as he has carried the Warriors to one of the greatest seasons of all time. The problem with what the Warriors have done though, is that they now rely on Steph to get them going in seemingly every game. It has gotten to the point where the Warriors are going to play as Steph plays, and to this point they have gone very far with that method. Conversely it is dangerous to rely so heavily on a single player, when you get into a seven game series against teams with depth and versatility.
7 Target On Their Back
The Warriors are no longer the underdog, and everyone knows who they are; they are the defending champs. Every team in the NBA is chasing them, and every team has a little extra motivation when they share the court with the Warriors. Their skill will come as no surprise to anyone this playoff season, actually quite the opposite, they will be in for their opponents' best effort every night out.
6 Gregg Popovich
Coach Pop, as he is referred to by his players, is the greatest coach in the NBA right now. He is a master general when it comes to figuring out ways to stop dynamic players. Two years ago, Popovich was responsible for shutting down the super team that was LeBron James' Miami Heat. Pop has shut down the Warriors once this season, and he also likes to play mind games. For example, when he played the Warriors in the regular season, he sat his entire starting line up for the game. He is a master strategist, and the Warriors better be ready when it comes time to match up with Coach Pop and his boys.
After starting the season with 24 straight wins, the Warriors have been on a mission to break the 95-96' Bulls all-time single season record. With that chase has come a season long commitment to giving all they have to win every single game. After 82 games of that high intensity and focus, it would come as no surprise if Golden State encounters some sort of fatigue come playoff time.
Playoff games bring their own dynamic and intensity, even greater than any regular season game. The Warriors will likely find themselves exhausted come the second and third round of the playoffs, after a record chase during the regular season.
As defending champs and potentially newly crowned single season record holders, the Warriors will be facing never before seen pressure to do well this postseason. As it is, the Warriors will finish this season with at least 72 wins, and with 72 wins they will be regarded as an all-time great team, and anything short of another NBA Title will be deemed a failure. That is some serious pressure for a group of guys that are still young, don't be shocked if they have a hard time living up to expectations this summer.
3 Western Conference Competition
This season, we all know the Warriors are having a historic run. What has been overshadowed by the Warriors, is the greatness of the other top four teams in the Western Conference. The Clippers have had one of their best seasons in franchise history, the Oklahoma City Thunder are easily a championship caliber squad, and the Spurs were undefeated at home for most of the season, and an all-time great team in their own right.
Whoever gets out of the Western Conference will have gone through an incredible gauntlet of competition, and it will come as no surprise, if the Warriors struggle to make it out of the second round of this titan riddled conference.
2 LeBron James And The Cleveland Cavaliers
Last season the Cavs had the Warriors down two games to one in the NBA finals, with Game 4 taking place in Cleveland. The Warriors ended up winning three straight games and captured the championship, but the Cavs have revenge on their minds now. If the Warriors are able to make it through the stacked Western Conference, they will likely face a healthy and highly motivated Cleveland Cavaliers team, led by LeBron James; James is out to prove that the NBA is still his league for the moment.
In time LeBron will have to give up his NBA reign to Steph, but for now The King still believes he is the supreme player in the NBA.
1 The San Antonio Spurs Veterans
With all the attention going to the Warriors this season, and deservedly so, the Spurs have just gone about their business. They lost just once at home this season, just recently to Golden State, which is the longest home win streak in NBA history.
The thing that gets lost most in all of the Warriors hype, is the fact that the Spurs' big three (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) have taken their team to the playoffs every single year since 2004. During that time, they have amassed countless playoff wins, multiple MVP Awards, and three NBA Titles. They aren't the sexiest choice, but they are the most efficient basketball team of all time.
When you combine that with the emergence of Kawhi Leonard, the coaching prowess of Gregg Popovic, and the competition in the Western Conference, the Warriors will have an incredibly tough time getting past the dynasty that is San Antonio basketball.