What the Golden State Warriors need to do to win the NBA Finals

NBA Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant Stephen Curry (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NBA Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant Stephen Curry (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Golden State Warriors know exactly what it will take to come back from down 3-1

The Golden State Warriors know what this feels like.

After all, they’ve been on the two ends of the 3-1 gap, with both coming in 2016. In the Conference Finals that year, the Warriors, who had won 73 games during that regular season, came back to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder after going down 3-1. Then, in the very next round, the Warriors found themselves beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-1, and ended up losing in 7 games, on their home court, not having scored a single point in the last four minutes of Game 7.

Now, the Warriors find themselves the same position as they did three years ago. Down 3-1 to a stacked team, except this time the team is the Toronto Raptors, and the stars are Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. So the Warriors have been here before, now the question is, how do they repeat their amazing achievement from three years ago?

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Get Kevin Durant back.

That’s it. That’s all they can do. Even though they were without Durant in 2016 (in fact, they were facing him), this Toronto team is a different beast entirely. To begin with, the 2015-16 Thunder were a team that already had rumors of a rift between their two biggest stars, and their third best player was either Steven Adams or Serge Ibaka, and whichever way you go it’s still not a comparable lineup to this Raptor’s team.

With Lowry, Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet all having great years, as well as the aforementioned Ibaka to tie things down defensively, this new and improved Raptors team poses, arguably, the biggest threat to the Warriors since the 2016 Cavs.

That’s not to say that the Warriors are going to go down easy. Since 2016, the Warriors have averaged 104 points, 40 rebounds, nine steals, 26 assists, 44.1 percent field goal shooting, and 41.1 percent 3-point shooting in lose and go home games.

In addition to that, the Warriors are 5-1 (83.3%) in those games, and most of them have been without KD. In fact, the Warriors are 3-1 without Durant in these kinds of games.

Meanwhile, in the same span of time, the Raptors have not performed nearly as well in win and move on games. In those, they’ve averaged 94 points, 45 rebounds, seven steals, 15 assists, 40 percent field goal shooting, and 33.5 percent 3-point shooting. They’re also just 2-2 (50%) in those types of games, making rebounds the only stat that the Raptors edge the Warriors in.

On one hand, this is not the same Raptors team as the 2016 Raptors (who had all four of the games above). Kyle Lowry has matured his game quite a lot, Pascal Siakam has fast become a key part of the team, and they added Leonard this season, albeit, they had to drop DeMar DeRozan. Plus, Danny Green is a bit of a wild card in the playoffs, and he could have a career night on any given night.

On the other hand, Durant plans on returning.

With a player like KD coming back, even if his minutes are restricted, that throws a whole new wrench into the Raptors plans. We saw in Game 4 how they weren’t able to defend against some stellar ball movement from the Warriors in the first half, and Golden States defense made it really difficult for anything to happen in that half.

Adding Durant just increases those parts of the Warriors game, and could also give players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson room to play a more high-risk style of ball, knowing that Durant is there to bail them out if need be.

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Regardless, the Warriors and KD are not only looking to secure their legacies in this series but are also fighting for their lives. If they can pull out another 3-1 comeback, it would secure the legacy of every player on that Golden State squad, and may just get the sour taste of 2016 out of Warrior fan’s mouths.