The Golden State Warriors are almost unbeatable with reigning MVP Stephen Curry on the court but they are still a great team even without him. The Warriors proved that with a Game 5 drubbing of the Houston Rockets to advance to the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs. Final score – 114-81.
Pundits have raised alarm bells because of two successive injuries to the league’s leading scorer. Curry suffered an ankle injury in Game 1 of the Warriors-Rockets series followed by a right knee injury in Game 4. According to reports, he will be out for at least two weeks at the minimum. He will reportedly rejoin the team late in the next series or the start of the Western Conference Finals, if the Warriors advance.
The loss of Curry showcased the depth and talent of the defending champions. Moreover, it put to fore their motto “Strength in Numbers” which was coined by Coach of the Year Steve Kerr last year when the Warriors won their first title in 40 years. The slogan might be considered cliché but it has worked wonders for the team and they have the best regular season record (73-10) in history to prove it.
While Curry and Klay Thompson are the focal points of their offense, they are so hard to beat because other players (Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, etc.) can do similar damage. They also boast of a lot of experience and skills on the bench, players who dive for loose balls and do the little extras. Apart from the talent, they genuinely like playing with one another and they don’t care about individual statistics. This has resulted in a team that makes the extra pass and gets everybody involved.
The Warriors will now face the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Portland Trailblazers series. The Clippers were heavy favorites to advance but injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have dashed their playoff hopes. The Trailblazers are now up 3-2 in the series and look to take Game 6 to advance.
Whether the Clippers or the Trailblazers advance, the Warriors are still the favorites even without Curry. At the same time, they can fully rest Steph Curry for the expected showdown with either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, if Curry doesn’t return, the Warriors chances to advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight year becomes dim.
The Warriors are showing their would-be opponents that they have what it takes despite the injury to Curry. “Strength in numbers” seems like the real deal.