Warriors’ playoff run shocks NBA

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Alec Bandler and Eric Yee

The Golden State Warriors’ magical playoff run sadly came to an end against San Antonio last month in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.

But it didn’t take away from what the team accomplished.

The Warriors shocked the league after finishing the season with a 47-35 record, doubling their win total from last year to earn the sixth seed in the West.

Led by all-star forward  David Lee and franchise guard Stephen Curry, the Warriors were faced with the task of taking on the No. 3 Denver Nuggets, who posted 38-3 home record, in the first round of the playoffs.

Second year head coach Mark Jackson held the team together with the belief his team could beat anybody.  He went on to call his backcourt of Curry and Klay Thompson, “The greatest shooting backcourt in history.”

The Warriors muscled through pain in Game 1 against the Nuggets, as they saw Lee go down with a torn hip flexor.

Lee’s absence was felt when the Warriors dropped a close game in the closing seconds after a layup from the Nuggets’ 37-year-old backup point guard Andre Miller.

But Miller’s career game was not going to set the tone for the series. The Warriors bounced back to win the next three games.  The most memorable game during this winning streak is arguably Game 4.

Oft-injured center Andrew Bogut had much to prove to his fans. The crowd erupted and sent the bench crazy after a series of Bogut slam dunks in the first quarter.

Curry paced the Warriors by averaging 30 points during that three-game span to give the team a 3-1 series lead.

After losing Game 5 in Denver, the Warriors returned to “Roaracle” Arena, where they hoped to seal the deal in front of their fans.

Strong defense and Bogut’s 21 rebounds was enough for Golden State to secure the series win and advance to face No.2 San Antonio.

History was not on the team’s side after dropping 30 straight games in San Antonio.  But the Warriors played Game 1 as if the streak had never happened.  The Warriors had a big lead late in the fourth quarter and it seemed that it would end.

Even though the Spurs rallied back to send the game into overtime, the Warriors held their own in overtime and were able to force a second overtime.

In double overtime, the Warriors took the lead after guard Kent Bazemore scored.

But Manu Ginobili hit a three pointer with only a few second left to win the game.  It was a crushing loss for the Warriors, but they were determined to end the streak.

The Warriors played just as hard in Game 2, but this time they were able to hold onto the lead.  The Warriors won, 100-91, and it seemed that the magic that carried them passed the Nuggets would be enough to beat the Spurs.

But after Game 2, the Spurs buckled down and silenced the Warriors potent offense.

In Games 3-6, Curry never had a big game and Thompson did nothing.  The lack of offense cost the Warriors and they lost to the Spurs in six games.

The backcourt eventually earned the nickname “Splash Brothers,” after strong shooting performances throughout the series.

The team faced criticism and doubt throughout the regular season. Nobody expected the Warriors to reach the playoffs, let alone the second round.

Despite the lack of experience, Jackson believed in his team the whole year.

Looking toward next season, the Warriors will have to address the contracts of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Both veterans played a key part in providing depth and leadership.  But with current financial issues, it’s unlikely both will return.

Another topic that General Manager Bob Myers might explore is trading the large expiring contracts of benchwarmers Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson.

The team could look to acquire draft picks or trade for more productive bench players.

But the biggest advantage the Warriors possess is their youth. Last year’s three draft picks played important roles in the playoffs.

Forward Harrison Barnes has proven that he can be the teams’ franchise player, while Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli appear to provide depth for years to come.

Similarly, Bazemore expects to see an increased role, should Jack leave the Bay Area.

This past season is one that will not be soon forgotten. The team’s high confidence in each other creates unity, pointing to all signs that this is the beginning of many more playoffs seasons to come.