The Golden State Warriors appear to be gradually building towards what could be a run at their fourth NBA championship in the last eight seasons.
They put aside the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs in five games while averaging 118.0 points per game and shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from 3-point range.
Some dismissed Golden State’s success in that series as merely being a product of an injured Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., although Denver won 48 games without both of them in the regular season, just five fewer than Golden State.
But in the second round, the Warriors shifted things to a higher gear versus the young and hungry Memphis Grizzlies.
Stephen Curry and company started to show their championship grit, especially in close wins in Game 1 and Game 4.
On Wednesday, the Warriors opened the Western Conference Finals with a no-sweat 112-87 win over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
The best appears to be yet to come for Golden State.
Scattered Brilliance, Trending Upward
During the regular season, Golden State was seemingly never whole.
After winning 18 of their first 20 games, the Warriors struggled for much of February and March and fell to the third seed at the end of the season.
Curry returned for their playoff opener versus the Nuggets, and Golden State started to look formidable while being fully healthy for the first time all year.
Against Ja Morant and the Grizzlies, the Warriors looked strong at times, but they mostly won the series on their resourcefulness and experience, rather than on their skill and synergy.
It was evident in Game 1when it was a defensive stop on Morant that won the game for the Warriors.
Steph Curry block vs Ja Morant
The Warriors take Game 1 vs Grizzlies 🍿
— Frenzy NBA (@frenzynba) May 1, 2022
Then in Game 4, it took a 39-point fourth quarter for them to squeak by, 101-98.
— SportsGrid (@SportsGrid) May 10, 2022
Morant suffered a knee injury in Game 3 that knocked him out for the rest of the series, and some think Memphis would’ve taken the series if not for that injury, especially given how outstanding it looked defensively without him.
They certainly gave the Warriors all they could handle in Game 5 by handing them a 134-95 rout.
Against Dallas in Game 1 of the West finals on Wednesday, the Warriors played a solid game, but they probably only brought their B-game.
Their defense was outstanding, but they could’ve done better than shoot 34.5 percent from downtown, and Curry could’ve done better than go 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-9 from beyond the arc.
What Could This Warriors Team Look Like At Peak Performance?
For a glimpse at the best version of the 2022 Warriors, look at Game 3 against the Grizzlies when they scored 142 points, shot 62.4 percent from the field, and 53.1 percent from 3-point land while notching 34 assists in a 30-point win.
This is a new group for the Warriors that hadn’t been together prior to this season, and all the injuries they had during the regular season prevented them from building chemistry early.
They’ve had to do so on the fly, but it’s gradually starting to happen.