Every sports fan who’ll look back at the 2014-2015 NBA season will immediately think about the Golden State Warriors. That was the season where Stephen Curry started making three-pointers at an alarming rate. Curry made 286 three-pointers that year and then 402 the next. All game highlights of the Warriors were just three-pointers after three-pointers after three-pointers. It also helped that the Warriors had Klay Thompson, another three-point specialist, on board. These two shooters, with the help of coach Steve Kerr and all-around player Draymond Green, propelled the Warriors to the NBA playoffs…
…and that’s where the Golden opportunities arrived.
No matter how dominant the Warriors were that year, non-Warrior fans will quickly point out that their path to the championship was too easy because they never met an opponent that was at full strength. Here’s the breakdown:
First Round Opponent: New Orleans Pelicans
Golden opportunity: Jrue Holiday and the stress fracture on his leg.
Result: Warriors win in four games. Holiday missed game two and only plays an average of 18 minutes in the other three games as he grinds through an injury. This was a big hit for the Pelicans. Their All-Star point guard should have been playing 35 minutes or more per game.
Second Round Opponent: Memphis Grizzlies
Golden opportunity number one: Mike Conley missed game one. He was elbowed to the face in the previous playoff round and the recovery process took time.
Golden opportunity number two: Tony Allen gets injured in game four, misses game five, and only plays a few minutes at the beginning of game six. Allen’s injury? Hamstring.
Result: Warriors win in six games. It should be noted that the Memphis Grizzlies won games two and three when they were at full strength with Allen’s defense leading the way.
Third Round Opponent: Houston Rockets
Golden opportunity number one: Dwight Howard doesn’t play the last 11 minutes of a close game due to a knee injury. Howard bruised his knee in the first half of game one.
Golden opportunity number two: Patrick Beverley is out for the season. He suffered a wrist injury before the playoffs started.
Result: Warriors win in five games. The Rockets had a chance in this one as they lost game one by four points and game two by one point. They missed Beverley, who could have hounded the back-court players of the Warriors.
Fourth Round Opponent (NBA Finals): Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden opportunity number one: The Cavaliers already lost Kevin Love (shoulder injury) before the NBA Finals.
Golden opportunity number two: The Cavaliers lose Kyrie Irving in the last few minutes of game one’s overtime period. If this game does not go to overtime, Irving stays healthy.
Result: Warriors win the championship in six games.
We all know injuries are a part of sports and staying healthy is an athlete’s personal goal but how the injury bug placed ALL of their opponents at a disadvantage in the 2015 NBA Playoffs is still mind-boggling today.
But one thing’s for sure… if you were a member of the Golden State Warriors back then… you’d make the most out of that opportunity… that Golden opportunity…
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