AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
The Golden State Warriors missed the playoffs last season after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies in the 2021 play-in tournament, and Stephen Curry told reporters Wednesday that was all the fuel the team needed for this year’s run to the NBA Finals.
“I got a lot of juice from that finish,” Curry said. “Obviously I was playing well, figuring it out, you know, building our chemistry and reforming the identity of who we are and how we play. And then coming into this year, like I still was surprised by our start, like I said, but that was the gas in the tank for the whole summer, for the start of this year, knowing we were going to be a problem this year and we have four more wins to make it all worth it, but it’s a good feeling.”
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The end of last season led Steph to believe the Dubs were a serious contender heading into this season pic.twitter.com/k7HBnmnOWl
The Warriors finished the 2020-21 season eighth in the Western Conference with a 39-33 record, winning 10 of their final 15 games to clinch a spot in the play-in tournament.
Failing to clinch a playoff spot last year was definitely disappointing for the Warriors, but the team did face many challenges, one of those being the absence of Klay Thompson, who missed his second straight season with a torn Achilles after missing the 2019-20 campaign with a torn ACL.
In addition, Jordan Poole was still trying to find his footing with the team and the addition of Kelly Oubre Jr. really didn’t pan out.
That said, everything has changed for the Dubs this season.
Thompson returned from his Achilles injury in January and has been a fixture in Steve Kerr’s lineup since. The 32-year-old averaged 20.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32 regular-season games and is averaging 19.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the playoffs.
One of the biggest improvements for the Warriors this year has been the emergence of Poole, whom Golden State selected in the first round of the 2019 draft. The 22-year-old averaged 18.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists during the regular season and is averaging 18.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists this postseason.
In addition, the Warriors have received impressive depth performances from Otto Porter Jr. and rookie Jonathan Kuminga this season.
All of the pieces fell into place for the Warriors this season, and it resulted in the team finishing third in the Western Conference with a 53-29 record, its best finish since the 2018-19 season when it went 57-25 and reached the NBA Finals.
They have been dominant in the postseason, defeating the Denver Nuggets in five games, the Grizzlies in six games and the Dallas Mavericks in five games. That said, the team’s next battle against the Boston Celtics won’t be easy.
The Celtics were the best defensive team in the NBA this season and the trio of Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have bulldozed their opponents, which include Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks and Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Celtics is set for Thursday at the Chase Center in San Francisco.