Why the Warriors Are the Team to Beat

From Durant’s departure to Klay and Steph’s injuries, the Warriors have endured their fair share of adversity over the past few years. But they’re finally back on top of the NBA. At least according to Vegas. Following injuries to Devin Booker and Khris Middleton, the Warriors are once again betting favorites to win the title at +300.

It’s quite an accomplishment for a team that missed the playoffs each of the past two years and won just 15 games in the 2019-2020 campaign. Of course now the key question remains — can they get the job done? Let’s dig into why the Warriors are the team to beat in this year’s playoffs.

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With five consecutive finals appearances, three titles and a record 73-win season, the Warriors’ epic run from 2014-2019 is among the greatest in NBA history. But while other teams have featured dynasties of their own, perhaps no group of players has had a greater impact on the sport. Affectionately known as the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson helped usher in an era of shotmaking the NBA has never seen before.

Curry — now the NBA’s all-time leader for 3-pointers made — led the way with a barrage of long balls night after night. Thompson put on a show of his own, setting the NBA’s record for most points in a quarter with 37. The individual success coupled with championship after championship caught the rest of the league’s attention. Since the start of the Warriors’ run in 2014, the percentage of 3-pointers taken in relation to all field goals has steadily risen from 25.9 percent to 39.9 percent in 2022.

It’s obvious teams are trying to mimic the Warriors’ dynamic shooting. However, with Steph and Klay finally back on the court together, it remains to be seen whether someone can knock off this high-powered offense. As Mike Malone so eloquently put it, “I think we have to really be careful. I think with the runs that have happened, we’re trying to play fast like them. We can’t match that. We’re a Pinto and they’re a Maserati.”

The Warriors’ offensive ceiling makes them a threat at all times. Yes, they had just the 16th best offensive rating in the regular season. But with most of their injuries finally healed up, they’ve been able to take things to another level in the playoffs. Through three games they boast an offensive rating of 127.4, which is best in the NBA. If they keep up that level of production the Warriors will be an extremely tough out.


Through both their success and failure together, the Warriors have gained something which is crucial to winning in the playoffs — experience. There’s no better example of that experience than Draymond Green’s play at the end of Game 3. Green struggled throughout the game and admitted as much afterwards saying, “I was terrible all night, recovering on the pick-and-roll. I went for several ball fakes. Coach Kerr got at me in that last timeout.”

Despite Green’s poor play and five fouls, Kerr trusted Green to come up with a key stop. And to his credit, Green secured the steal as well as the victory. As Coach Kerr later pointed out, it was a seminal moment in their early playoff run, “You have to feel this kind of adversity on the road… It’s good for our team to have this experience and come through because we are going to be feeling it again, especially on the road.”

In a way it’s not too surprising to see someone like Green or Curry come up big late in the playoffs. After all, they’ve been there, done that. But if Jordan Poole continues to come up clutch down the stretch, watch out. Through three playoff games he’s averaging 28.7 points on 67% shooting. And the Warriors are taking notice. Klay Thompson praised Poole after Game 3 saying, “These last three games, I don’t remember a better start for a playoff debut for a guard.”

In addition to his lights out play, Poole looked like a seasoned vet when he took command of the Warriors’ huddle late in Game 3. It wasn’t Curry or Green or Thompson leading the charge. It was the 22-year old, third year player who is competing in the playoffs for the first time. That innate confidence coupled with skill and experience of the Warriors’ established stars should help them get back to the mountaintop in 2022.

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