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Golden State Warriors - Road to the NBA 2022 Championship

Many thought 2018 was the Golden State Warriors’ title after losing Kevin Durant in 2019. Three years later, they’ve now won four NBA championships and eight years.

Golden State Warriors - Road to the NBA 2022 Championship-krn
New Delhi, First Published Jun 18, 2022, 2:00 AM IST

Heading into the 2021-22 NBA season, expectations for the Golden State Warriors weren’t too high from the outside. The team had just missed the playoffs for two straight years, and there wasn’t a significant trade either. Klay Thompson was supposed to return later in the season. However, his impact coming off a two-year injury layoff was a question mark too. Then, the season started, and the Warriors looked as good as ever. Stephen Curry was dominant, breaking Ray Allen’s all-time three-pointer record in December, and Draymond Green was playing at a defensive player of the year level. 

Despite some competition from the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors had the league-best record for most of the season’s first three months. However, as the season progressed, things started to go downhill. Steph Curry would miss games through multiple injuries, including one that would see him miss the last 12 games of the regular season.

Draymond Green, the early Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) favourite, would miss most of the second half of the regular season and play only 46 games in the season. While getting Klay Thompson back was a morale booster, integrating him from a significant injury had its growing pains.

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Despite a Jordan Poole breakout in the latter stages of the NBA season, the Warriors slipped from the best record in the league to the third-best record in the west, as the Suns and Grizzlies were able to overtake the Warriors in the standings. As Steph Curry was just coming off an injury, the Warriors decided to use him off the bench in the first round.

Despite fewer minutes, Steph could dominate the Denver Nuggets’ defence as the Warriors comfortably advanced to the second round in five games. The Warriors had three 20-point scorers in the series with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole. Both Thompson and Poole kept the Warriors afloat in the latter stages of the regular season when most of the core was decimated with injuries, and they carried their form to the post-season.

The second round was a more extensive test for the Warriors, as they went up against the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, who had homecourt. The two teams split the opening two games, with both being competitive until the last minute. Ja Morant scored 47 points in Memphis’s Game 2 and added another 35 points.

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However, Morant couldn’t stop the Grizzlies from being blown out in Game 3. The aftermath of the game of Game 3 was arguably a turning point in the series, as Ja Morant was eventually ruled out of the series due to injury. Despite this, the Grizzlies remained competitive. However, they lost two close games in Games 4 and 6 to lose the series in six games.

The Warriors faced the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Finals after the latter upset the Suns in seven games. After a comfortable win in game one, the Warriors found themselves down 14 at the half in Game 2. Thanks to an excellent defensive display and an all-around well-executed, the Warriors managed to dig themselves out of the deficit and win Game 2.

The Warriors essentially sealed the series when they defeated the Mavs in Game 3, and after Klay Thompson’s masterclass in Game 5, it was confirmed that the Warriors would be playing in their fifth final in seven years. Klay’s back-court partner Steph Curry was awarded the Inaugural Magic Johnson Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy for his display in the Western Conference Finals.

ALSO READ: NBA Finals 2022 - Stephen Curry wins first Finals MVP as Golden State Warriors win title

The team then met the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. In one of the league's Cinderella stories, Boston had one of the best defences spearheaded by Marcus Smart, a player who would guard Curry in the Finals. The Celtics also had a lethal offence led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Boston’s strength showed in Game 1 when they outscored the Warriors by 24 in the fourth quarter to complete a stunning comeback win at the Chase Center. In the next three games, the Warriors would show what they’re made of with two road wins and a win at home to clinch the series.

Game 4 saw the Warriors trail in the fourth. However, a big run to end the game meant the Warriors went back with the series tied. Stephen Curry’s 43 points led the team. In Game 5, The Warriors showed how they could prevail without Stephen Curry’s scoring with Andrew Wiggins getting the spotlight. Game 6 saw a slow start in the first four minutes. However, a backbreaking NBA Finals record 21-0 run essentially ended the game in the second quarter. The Warriors won their fourth title in eight years, with Stephen Curry finally getting his Finals MVP.

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