Golden State Warriors: Entertaining matchups with the Lakers ahead

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors waits as he is watched by Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors waits as he is watched by Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Golden State Warriors road to a third-straight championship just got more onerous as the Los Angeles Lakers now look to return to relevancy.

It’s time to get back to work for the Golden State Warriors as their third title in four years proved to be the most challenging.

A grueling Western Conference Final against the Houston Rockets brought Golden State to the brink of elimination in an epic game seven of a classic series.

The biggest challenge was to win a game seven in a hostile environment, as the Rockets were the top seed in the West. Not many expected Houston to extend the series to seven after Chris Paul went down in the round.

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James Harden refused to give in though, and gave his team a chance to dethrone the defending champs at home.

But Kevin Durant delivered a clutch performance in that game seven, scoring 34 points as the Warriors fended off the Rockets to set up Episode IV of the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors would sweep the series as Durant earned back-to-back Finals MVP honors.

As free-agency opened for the NBA, teams in the Western Conference made their moves. The Los Angeles Lakers made the most significant offseason splash with the hope of knocking off the defending champs come playoff time.

LeBron James signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, immediately making the team contenders next season. With James added to a young nucleus of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers have set themselves up for success.

Magic Johnson has successfully landed big-time free agents since taking over the running the Lakers’ operations. With James in the fold, Johnson is hoping the ‘Showtime’ he brought during his playing days will make a return.

For James, he leaves Cleveland for the second time – fulfilling a promise he made upon his return. James wanted to win a championship for Cleveland. He successfully did so, to the dismay of the Warriors,who blew a 3-1 series lead to the Cavaliers in 2016.

After this postseason, James proved he has plenty left in the tank. He turned in perhaps one of the best performances seen in recent NBA Playoff history. James carried the Cavaliers on his back, all the way to the Finals, giving his team another shot at a title against the Warriors.

Like the Warriors, the Cavaliers went seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. In a series where the visiting team struggled, James found a way to break through, pushing through at the end.

In the end, fatigue, a J.R. Smith blunder in game one, and a talented Warriors team were too much in the Finals for James to overcome.

Now, James has chosen to take his talents to Hollywood and help the Lakers win a championship.

His deal is interesting to note with the length being four years. The fourth year is a player option, but his contracts with the Cavaliers were only one-year with an option. After winning a title, he took a two-year deal with a player option for a third year.

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the best players from their generation as both made their teammates better basketball players. Whether people like or dislike James, he is undoubtedly one of the best all-time players seen in the NBA.

The Lakers are far from done tweaking their roster. Trade rumors swirled before James’ announcement about Kawhi Leonard wanting out of San Antonio and wanting to join the Lakers. Leverage is now on the Lakers side to facilitate a trade with the Spurs.

Golden State Warriors
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Golden State Warriors

Former Warriors’ center, JaVale McGee, agreed to join the Lakers along with Lance Stephenson. Rajon Rondo also joins the roster.

With James in Los Angeles, he will be meeting with Golden State a few more times and potentially in a playoff round other than the Finals. Expect some physical, spirited basketball when the two rivals square off in what will be primetime matchups.

Lakers’ head coach, Luke Walton, is probably ecstatic with the addition of James. The media will center around James and not have to answer questions about the outlandish comments made by Ball’s father, LaVar Ball.

The Big Baller Brand patriarch sure likes to hear himself talk and will surely try to make waves with one ridiculous claim or another — like Lonzo taking LeBron under his wing to win a championship doesn’t sound too far off the mark of something he’d say.

Back to the Warriors though. As if the team wasn’t already aware of the giant target on their backs for the 2018-19 campaign, it’s even more obvious than before.

Teams in the West are doing whatever it takes to give themselves a fighting chance against the Warriors. To put an effective trio against Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson is a tall order.

With McGee off to join the Lakers, the door is open for Jordan Bell to take the starting center position. The former Oregon Duck turned in a decent season despite missing time with an injury. Expect Bell to only get better in the coming years.

Next: Warriors Expected to Take Shot at Landing A Big

A rivalry got re-ignited between the Warriors and the Lakers after the decision by LeBron. With a daunting task ahead, given the talent accumulated in the West, a third consecutive title by the Warriors would be a remarkable achievement.