During the first three rounds of the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors were apparently content to ease into potential closing games down the road. Against Denver, then Memphis, then Dallas, Golden State squandered every initial opportunity to finish the series, only to cheer on the home team’s fans in the next game.
But they were almost impatient against Boston in the finals. With a chance to win another championship—the fourth in eight seasons—and complete a comeback streak, Steve Curry, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Warriors blasted off early in Game 6 and never lost control.
Thanks to a 21-0 early run – Longest in any Finals game In at least 50 years – the Warriors have raced to win 103-90 in Game Six. After losing in the 2019 Finals, the Warriors fell to the bottom of the NBA standings. They struggled to rise beyond mediocrity the following season, and then drew a sometimes awkward line between competing in the present and building for the future. But now they had returned to the top of the mountain, loudly declaring that their dynastic rule was not yet complete.
There is almost no precedent in NBA history for the rise and relegation of the Warriors in particular and for them to rise again. The Bulls split the Three Peasants, but they also remained competitive during Michael Jordan’s two-year sabbatical. Tottenham published their titles as well, but they were contenders throughout Tim Duncan’s 19-year career. The only company far away is the early Celtics dynasty, which took a hiatus several years after Bill Russell and Sam Jones retired, only to emerge as champions again with some of the original fundamentals – John Havlicek as star player, Tommy Heinson as coach, Red Auerbach as general manager – still intact.
The warriors found a fitting place for their return to power, then, when they raised the cup under the retired numbers of Russell and Jones, Havlicek and Heinson, Auerbach and all the ancient Celtics, hanging from the TD Garden rafters.
One day the numbers for Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson will hang from above Chase Center, and this series provides only the latest clue as to why. Curry was the brightest star in the finals, averaging 31 points in 48-44-86 shooting periods, but he wasn’t alone. Green bounced back from the series’ brutal start to dominate the defensive end and contribute nearly three times as much to the playoff.
Despite his inconsistent shooting nights, Thompson averaged 17 points per game, while occasionally playing a stifling defense at Jaylen Brown. That he delivered this bi-directional performance absolutely is noteworthy; The one he made after returning from an absence of nearly three years due to multiple debilitating leg injuries is the stuff of absolute legend. Until a few months ago, Thompson’s last NBA game appearance was in the Finals loss to the Raptors, when he came back to the ground to shoot free throws after tearing up the AFC Champions League. Now, he’s back and still able to act on the same stage.
In addition to his calmness on the court, Thompson also proved to be a prophet during the series, by noting the “big feelings of 2015” after Game 3 – which the Warriors lost to trailing 2-1 in the series, just as they did in the 2015 finals, to return with three straight wins, Just like in the 2015 finals.
It was the first win in the finals in a long time, as commentators still believed the jump team couldn’t win a title. Since then, Curry and the Warriors have revolutionized modern strategy, on both sides of the ball, and transformed the sport entirely from NBA to youth levels. Not only did they win four titles, but they completely defined the modern era of the sport.
However, even as other teams try to imitate Golden State’s success, or even embrace their embrace of the triple icons to the extreme, the Warriors still win out with a unique offensive philosophy. They’ve put the fewest screens on the ball of any team in the league this season, at Second Spectrum. They bragged about the highest assist rate. They generated the most points from cuts.
That’s the charm of Curry, who remains an underpowered attacking drive even in his mid-30s, and the unanimous pick to win his first MVP award at the Finals. After the Warriors lost in the 2019 Finals and then Kevin Durant, it wasn’t clear if he would ever get that chance again.
In the past 40 years, only two other teams have won a title in the year after missing the playoffs. But both the Lakers 2019-20 (with LeBron James and Anthony Davis) and the Celtics 2007-08 (with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) needed to add stars to lead the standings. Warriors maintained the same pulp all the way through.
Helped newcomers, of course, with Andrew Wiggins – acquired in a controversial deal in the middle of the losing 2019-20 season – lead the doubles lead in games 4 and 5 of the Finals, along with a stellar defense over Jason Tatum. Depth has also changed around current Warriors champions, with the likes of Jordan Paul, Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II filling the edges of stardom.
But the leaders of this group are still the same nearly a decade later, from the pitch and marginalization to the front office and owner’s fund. Prior to Game Six, Green thought about the possibility of not so many key pieces sticking together for long in the modern NBA. Greene said, “We were sitting on the plane yesterday, and Steve and Clay and I were sitting at the same table, and [GM Bob Myers] He walks past and says, ‘You guys are funny, you guys are still sitting together. …the guys aren’t even on the same team for 10 years, let alone sitting there at the same table enjoying each other’s conversation and presence. “
(To be fair, Thompson remembered this eerie, nostalgic scene a little differently. “I was half asleep,” he told reporters. “Draymond and Bob were talking their hearts out for six hours on a plane ride. I was just trying to get some sleep.” )
Green continued, “I couldn’t imagine sharing this journey with anyone else. You know, we built this thing from the ground up. … This bond is going to last forever. We’re bound together forever.”
Their titles are forever too, and Golden State is the first team in the 21st century with four in such a short period. This didn’t Give Dynasty Warriors. They’ve already earned that rating, having racked up three wins and a regular season record all in a four-year span. But now warriors stretch Their lineage, with a three-man veteran core, is all still productive, complemented by younger players like Wiggins and Paul, and even younger players like Jonathan Kominga and Moses Moody looking forward to their minutes ahead.
The 2021-22 set wasn’t the best Warriors team ever had. It didn’t have to be. He won the title anyway, while at the same time paving the way for more contention for years to come.