By: Rob Botts
The 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, fresh off of their 4-2 storming of the King’s castle in the Finals, are one of the most unique winners ever. Charles Barkley has famously and continuously mused on several occasions during his TNT stand up analyst routine that “Jump shooting teams can’t win a championship.” BUT, he has also said, along with many talking heads around the league that DEFENSE wins championships. Well kids, we have our first official hybrid NBA champion that would make the rumbling and stumbling other hybrid of multiple dinosaur genes status from the new “Jurassic World” film jealous.
This Warriors team was the BEST offensive team in the league. This Warriors team was the BEST defensive team in the league. This team combined jump shooting accuracy with stingy on the ball defense. They moved the ball from player to player with purpose and efficiency. The reason the ball moved so much is because no matter where it’s eventual landing spot would be, there was an excellent chance that player was going to bury his jump shot. And these Warriors made all kinds of jump shots. The kinds of jump shots that left you scratching your head and saying with that little inner voice “They just CANNOT keep this up!!! Can they????” But they did keep it up. NBA MVP Stephen Curry and Michael Thompson of “Splash Brothers” fame, were the main contributors to this tickled twine of a story. When Thompson wasn’t breaking scoring records for quarters with absolutely scorching quick release jumpers, Curry would be a showing off a dazzling array of escape, behind the back and cross over dribbles that would break the ankles of defenders while being precursors to the deadly accurate and breathtaking three point bombs that would almost always find the bottom of the net. These jump shots for these two would come in the half court set or on the fast break. It didn’t matter where they were or what they were doing on the court before the ball was put into their hands. From that moment on, the ball was going in the direction of the hoop in a jump shot delivery device.
When Curry and Thompson weren’t harassing the nets with their round leather torture device, they would focus their attention to applying hard, consistent, on the ball pressure to the opposing team’s players. These two had help from the likes of Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut. Whether it was Green denying the post, Barnes rotating to pick up a man, Iguodala taking a charge or Bogut pinning a shot off the glass, they all played extremely aggressively on the defensive end of the floor. They would get stops when they needs to get stops and THAT is what wins you games in this league. The very big games.
To be a great team you also need toughness. Toughness of the body and toughness of the mind. Head coach Steve Kerr instilled within his team a “bend but don’t break” mentality. That mentality translated into tenacity on the defensive end and determination of the offensive end. Those same balls that were being deflected by active hands in the lane, were the same ones being drained by deadly snipers from the outside on offense.
Golden State won 67 games this season. 67. That is as many games as the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics squad of 1985-86. That particular Celtic team is considered one of the greatest NBA teams ever put together by many experts. Golden State wasn’t that far off MJ and those magical, all time great Bulls of 1995-96 that won a league record 73 contests. The Warriors dominated the ultra tough Western Conference on their way to a runaway playoff berth and home court throughout the postseason.
Many analysts, coaches and players call the NBA a “make or miss” league. For the Golden State Warriors, a fantastic NBA championship team, they were both. A team that would MAKE their jump shots and force you to MISS yours.