On Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors took the first step back to glory by knocking out the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs, four games to one.
Game 5 was ugly and low-scoring, not exactly the type of game the Warriors want to play, but they outlasted the pesky but short-handed Nuggets, 102-98.
As they prepare for either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Memphis Grizzlies in the next round, the Warriors are starting to regain their mojo after two seasons of being stuck in the mud.
Golden State has a great chance of winning the world championship, which would be its first since 2018 and its fourth in the last eight years.
The Warriors Are Starting To Look Like Their Best Selves
When Golden State won it all in 2015, 2017 and 2018, it did so with an elite defense, a deadly transition game, and active ball and player movement in its half-court offense.
The team is now sporting all those qualities at the same time once again.
The Warriors finished third in points allowed and first in defensive rating, and they possess long, athletic wings who can put the clamps down on that end of the floor.
Of course, they also possess Draymond Green, their jack-of-all-trades who is also a master at defense and a perennial candidate for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
After two years of being in eclipse, Klay Thompson is starting to look like his old self again.
In the Denver series, he averaged 22.6 points a game while shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and a red-hot 45.8 percent from 3-point range.
Most importantly, Curry is playing like the two-time MVP he was not too long ago.
After struggling from the field for much of the regular season, he shot 40.4 percent from downtown and 50.0 percent overall versus Denver while averaging 28.0 points a game.
30 PTS | 5 REB | 5 AST
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 28, 2022
To paraphrase the band Tool, everyone knows that the pieces fit.
The Other Contenders Have Issues
Coming into the 2022 NBA playoffs, most considered the other title contenders to be the Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets just got swept by the Celtics, and the Bucks and Suns are dealing with key injuries.
Draymond Green with the huge block on Jayson Tatum and the stare down😤😤 pic.twitter.com/binXwZ5wiB
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 6, 2019
Draymond Green just took the ball away from Jayson Tatum like he was a professional bully pic.twitter.com/l6e8jFUaA3
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 6, 2019
Boston is certainly an outstanding defensive team, but so are the Warriors, who are also a better offensive team than Beantown, both in terms of personnel and execution.
Golden State also has the edge in terms of experience, but at the same time, it has to be hungry, given what Curry, Thompson, and Green have been through in the last few years.
If the Warriors meet the Celtics this summer for the world championship, the latter will have their hands full and may ultimately leave the Finals empty-handed.