OKLAHOMA CITY — The visiting locker room during a Chesapeake Energy Arena was no funeral. Minutes after Golden State suffered a 133-105 shellacking by a Thunder, there was a impulse of smiles and jokes from a quintet of Warriors, led by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, in a distant dilemma where their lockers bordered one another, before media duties pulled them apart.
The impulse was in contrariety to an differently gloomy stage for a Warriors, now confronting a 2-1 necessity in a Western Conference Finals opposite a healthy Thunder patrol personification a best basketball. But a few postgame smiles can’t costume that a players know a earnest of a conditions they’ve found themselves in. It only means they still trust they’ll get out unscathed.
That form of autarchic certainty is what has done a Warriors, a Warriors. It has manifested itself all season. By now, if they didn’t trust it entrance into a series, Golden State has schooled that a healthy Oklahoma City doesn’t keel over easily. The Warriors trust in themselves anyway, and nobody doubts that.
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But faith can’t be directly bartered for wins. Down 2-1, a doubt is either a Warriors have finally corroborated themselves into a conditions too formidable to handle.
“We’ve been there before,” Shaun Livingston said. “But it’s not easy and they’re not going to lay down.”
Golden State has indeed been accurately here only final year, trailing 2-1 in a playoff array twice in a 2015 championship run. LeBron James carried Cleveland to dual wins in a initial 3 games of final year’s 2015 finals, while a Memphis Grizzlies sprung out with a lead after a opening 3 games. Both teams suffered a same fate, losing a subsequent 3 games and a array rather decisively.
Cleveland and Memphis were bleeding animals, burdensome their appetite early on before surrender to their fates. The Thunder are different, braggadocio dual superstars, a conduct manager excelling underneath playoff vigour and a window that competence finally be pointed only a right way.
“Yeah, we’ve been in this position before, though this is a opposite team,” Andrew Bogut said. “If we’re clutching during straws perplexing to figure out positives, that’s one (that we’ve been here before) we put on a board, though we know what we have to do going into subsequent game.”
Hanging over an already bad conditions is Draymond Green’s second-quarter kick, one that could outcome in a probable cessation for Game 4. The Warriors, to a man, insisted after a diversion that Green’s flog to Steven Adams‘ groin in a second entertain was inadvertent, though the video could be seen differently. Russell Westbrook called it conscious during his postgame press conference, and if a NBA agrees, there’s a estimable new dominance of players being dangling for a game. Lose Green for even a diversion and it’s a series-altering outcome.
Anxious. Maybe that’s a right word for a postgame atmosphere, when vexed or undone or shaken don’t utterly fit. Like Bogut said, Golden State entirely comprehend this savage isn’t utterly like ones it has slayed in a past.
“Russell and KD, those guys are tough to stop,” Festus Ezeli pronounced succinctly.
Still, a Warriors wish we to doubt them. It’s roughly like they emanate a doubt sometimes, when their drifting turnovers and defensive lapses infrequently concede teams to hang around or take leads opposite them when they shouldn’t. We’ve witnessed adequate second-half comebacks that there’s an ubiquitous feeling that no lead opposite them is safe. The Warriors tumble behind — in a quarter, in a game, in a array — and afterwards they swell behind with bomb basketball that leaves us breathless and in awe. It’s a tract so common that they’ve incited it into a cliche.
Warriors manager Steve Kerr concurred a fashion of trailing 2-1, though went behind even serve for a comparison.
“I was a Laker fan flourishing up, and we consider it was about 1985 they mislaid Game 1 in a Garden by 45 points,” Kerr said, referring to an NBA Finals diversion in Boston that L.A. had mislaid by 34. “They won a series.”
Most of Kerr’s players weren’t alive in 1985, though his indicate stands. Teams remove and afterwards they win. Their devise fails and they regroup, form new ones and leave a other group scrambling. Sports aren’t linear. The Warriors still haven’t mislaid on back-to-back games this season, after all.
No one is counting out a Warriors from this series, quite not a Warriors themselves. But a Thunder are their reckoning. This is their toughest exam yet. And maybe, only maybe, a Warriors have found themselves in resources that are too good to overcome, even for them.
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