For much of the regular season, the Golden State Warriors were simply looking to put something cohesive together while being forced to reinvent themselves.
After not playing since that championship series due to an ACL injury and a torn Achilles, Thompson didn’t make his return until midway this season, while Green and Curry missed plenty of time due to injuries of their own.
The Warriors had been in flux for most of the past three years, but once the 2022 NBA playoffs began, they started to have a familiar look, even though they had many new faces.
In the Western Conference semifinals versus the young but very game Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State is starting to once again do the things that championship teams do in the spring and summer.
The Warriors Are Getting Their Groove Back
In the first round against the Denver Nuggets, Curry came off the bench after missing the last 12 games of the regular season with a foot injury.
But he played well, averaging 28 points in 30 minutes per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point range as the Warriors took the series in five games.
The second round versus Memphis has been the Warriors’ chance to prove that they have returned to that familiar championship stratosphere.
In Game 1, Curry went just 8-of-20 from the field while Thompson made only 6-of-19 shots, as the Grizzlies forged a 13-point lead in the second quarter.
To make matters worse, Green was ejected in that period, leaving the Warriors without their Swiss Army knife and emotional leader.
But Thompson hit a 3-pointer to give them the lead with 36 seconds left, and on the final possession, he stuffed Ja Morant as he attempted to win the contest for Memphis.
— NBA (@NBA) May 1, 2022
After dropping Game 2, Golden State bounced back in monster fashion, scoring 142 points in Game 3 and routing Memphis by 30 points.
Even without Morant in Game 4, who is out perhaps for the rest of the postseason with a bone bruise, the Grizzlies fought hard and made the Warriors look like they were stuck in mud.
But Golden State uncorked 39 points in the final period and outlasted a gutsy and stubborn Memphis squad, 101-98, to take a 3-1 series lead.
Winning a close, down-to-the-wire contest when their two best players have a bad shooting performance, as they did in Game 1 and Game 4, is what championship teams do in the playoffs.
Golden State Has Been Given New Life Thanks To New Blood
While Curry and Thompson have had their struggles in this series, the Warriors’ two new young stars have picked up the slack.
Poole is putting up 23 points on 53.8 percent shooting and 5.3 assists per game in this series, while Wiggins is averaging 16.9 points on 49.1 percent shooting.
Jordan Poole's last six games:
🔹 23 PTS, 8-12 FG, 3-6 3FG
🔹 23 PTS, 9-15 FG, 4-8 3FG
🔹 32 PTS, 11-19 FG, 8-12 3FG
🔹 20 PTS, 8-13 FG, 4-6 3FG
🔹 21 PTS, 8-13 FG, 4-7 3FG
🔹 30 PTS, 9-16 FG, 5-10 3FG pic.twitter.com/ezi3jdMQor
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 13, 2022
Getting consistent production from its supporting cast when its stars are struggling is another thing that championship teams are doing, and it is starting to give the Warriors an aura that they enjoyed year after year not too long ago.