Golden State Warriors: Can they pull off the three-peat in 2018-19?

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 03: (L-R) Stephen Curry
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 03: (L-R) Stephen Curry /

The Golden State Warriors are aiming to be the first team to three-peat since the LA Lakers in 2000-02.

With respect to the Golden State Warriors, if you follow the NBA, then you fall into one of following categories-

  1. You’re a Warriors’ fan who’s rejoicing at this moment in time. After years of non-competitiveness, Golden State is sitting atop of the basketball world, and you just want the party to continue.
  2. You’re not a fan but respect the accomplishments of the Warriors, and their exciting style of play. Golden State led the NBA in assists for four years in a row, and their starting lineup has three or four future Hall of Famers that play well together.
  3. You’re still grumbling about how superteams are ruining the league. And you’re not happy that the Warriors added DeMarcus Cousins this off-season. And you hate Draymond Green just on principle.

Whether or not you’re lamenting the current state of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors can become the first team to win three championships in a row since the Kobe Bryant/Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers of 2000-02.

Will they do it? Oddsmakers and Jeff Van Gundy say yes, but there are three main obstacles that could derail the Warriors from a third consecutive Larry O’Brien trophy.

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1. Injuries

Injuries can shuffle the deck like no other factor. It’s much more likely that an injury will impact a team than a breakout season by a particular player.

Unlike the previous season, when the Warriors cruised to a championship, Golden State looked vulnerable in 2017-18, as they battled injuries heading into the playoffs.

Stephen Curry injured his right ankle and left knee in separate incidents late in the season. The Warriors lost ten of their final 17 regular season games.

Andre Iguodala‘s injury caused him to miss the final four games of the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets. The Warriors narrowly survived that series, and then went on to win the title.

No one is going to feel sorry for the Warriors, as the injury bug can bite any team. The Rockets’ Chris Paul has had an unfortunate injury history in his storied career.

2. A handful of other contenders

In the East, the title contenders will be the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. In the West, it will be the Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers.

The other 25 teams have no realistic chance of winning a championship this year (unless injuries knock out the top five teams).

Of these contenders, the Celtics and Rockets are the most intact from last year. The major change for the Celtics this year will be Gordon Hayward‘s availability, after losing him to a gruesome leg injury in the first game last season.

Hayward will contribute to an already formidable Boston lineup that includes Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford.

Despite a change in the supporting cast, the Houston Rockets still have James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela, so they remain the primary threat to Golden State in the West.

Had the Rockets not gone 0-for-27 on three-pointers against the Warriors in game seven of the Western Conference Finals last year, this article would not exist.

The Raptors and Lakers will be experiments in superstardom, as the Raptors will see what swapping DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard will do for their fortunes.

Former Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse has taken over as a first-time head coach as Toronto looks to erase the embarrassment of getting swept by the Cavaliers in last year’s playoffs.

The Lakers have to be considered a contender since LeBron James joined the team, but whether they can play cohesively remains to be seen. A motley crew consisting of James, Lance StephensonRajon Rondo, and the young guys from last year will make for compelling basketball.

3. Golden State Warriors’ loss of focus

Golden State is favored against the four teams mentioned above, but the Warriors can be their own worst enemy.

Despite the Warriors’ brilliant overall play, turnovers have plagued them throughout their current run. Last year, they had the fifth-most turnovers per game.

The Warriors have a penchant for trying to make the spectacular play when the safe play will usually do. On occasion it costs them wins.

“We want more. We want to be able to accomplish the ultimate feat of winning a championship every single year. That’s why we work so hard.”   –Stephen Curry

On defense, occasional mental lapses were evident throughout the regular season, and even into the playoffs. In the series with Houston, the Warriors were caught flat-footed as they missed defensive assignments.

Having been to the Finals for four consecutive years, the Warriors have to fight complacency and not take anything for granted.

At the same time, the rest of the league has an opportunity to close the gap with Golden State. They’ve now had four years to see how the Warriors play, and they have another chance to scheme against it.

Stephen Curry, while on a promotional tour in the Philippines, talked about the opportunity to win a third championship in a row this upcoming season.

Next. Klay Thompson: speculation over free agency mounts. dark

Curry noted he’s at his peak as an athlete, so he and the rest of the Golden State Warriors are gearing up to add another accomplishment to their legacy.