NBA Injury Luck and Golden State
You’ve probably heard all about how “lucky” the Warriors’ runs to the finals were. These ideas are spread by fans who hated the sheer dominance that was the 2015-2019 Warriors.
But it does sound pretty convincing right?
Here is a list of players that Golden State didn’t have to face in their NBA playoff runs:
- Chris Paul: 2017 (Hurt for Game 7)
- Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving: 2015 (Hurt for a majority of the Finals)
- Mike Conley, Tony Allen: 2015 (Both missed Game 5, barely played Games 4-6)
- Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker: 2017 (Parker missed the series, Kawhi played half of Game 1)
Many bitter fans argue that these injuries allowed Golden State to win three rings in five years.
The injuries keep coming. Jazz fans argue in 2017 that George Hill would have made a huge difference, and the Rockets say Pat Beverley would have changed the game in the ’15 Conference Finals.
There are other claims too, like the fact that Portland didn’t have Jusuf Nur…nevermind. That one is total baloney.
Seriously, if you ever hear a Portland fan start with:
” We would have won in ’17 if Nurk hadn’t…”
Just do yourself a favor and walk away. You don’t need those people in your life.
It’s pretty obvious, the Warriors have benefitted from one of the biggest “luck” areas in sports: facing injury-riddled teams.
Or Did They?
In 2016 when my glorious Cavaliers won the most improbable championship of all time (not trolling), the Warriors kinda fell apart.
Alright, bear with me, because we’re going to dive deep here.
BUT, Warriors fans always say this: “Draymond shouldn’t have gotten suspended, and then we would have won.”
That might be true, but it’s not the reason the Cavs flipped the series.
Check this out:
So basically, in the first three games of the series, Bogut was destroying shots at the rim.
He didn’t have as many blocks in the other games, but his help defense was incredible. Sure, he struggled when the Cavs iso’d him, but was still a defensive anchor.
Injuries cause a shift in rotations in the NBA. With Bogut out, Festus Ezeli (Who was massively overrated, see Game 7) had to play all of Bogut’s minutes.
You combine that injury with the Draymond suspension and the greatness of LeBron and Kyrie, and Golden State loses.
However, if Bogut doesn’t get hurt, I’m sure the Warriors repeat as champs.
It seems that luck wasn’t on Golden State’s side. So what now?
Let’s Get Recent With it
So, 2019 happens. The scrappy Toronto Raptors led by Super-Team Killa Kawhi Leonard played team basketball and were ready to take on the Golden State giants. (Don’t forget the Warriors just added Boogie lol)
The Warriors were favorites by a landslide. Nobody was picking Toronto except for Drake, and we all know how that has worked out in the past.
Until everyone on Golden State got hurt. Like. Everyone.
Iggy suffered a mild hamstring injury early on in the playoffs but wasn’t even close to 100% in the Finals. Steph’s ankles that had bothered him for like five years early in his career came back to haunt him. DeMarcus tore his quad against the Clippers. Durant also strained his quad.
That above list is comical. No team deserves those kinds of injury problems in any sport.
But we’re not done.
Kevon Looney fractured his collarbone. (rather Kawhi fractured Looney’s collarbone) Curry then got hurt again when he dislocated his finger in the Western Conference Finals.
And then it literally hit rock bottom.
Kevin Durant tore his Achilles, and Klay Thompson tore his ACL.
What just happened. Golden State was supposed to three-peat.
They assembled one of the most team-basketball, star-studded units of all-time, and only won three championships in five years.
What went wrong? They didn’t get lucky with injuries. If they had, they wouldn’t have lost a single Finals series in five years.
The Fall (More Injuries)
Now, we’re in the 2019-2020 season, and Golden State is a mess. Steph broke his hand, the Warriors are missing other role players, Klay isn’t back, and Draymond has injury troubles too.
It goes to show that in basketball, championship windows are EXTREMELY small.
You never know when you will have another opportunity to win a championship. That’s why every moment counts.
The Warriors got drubbed by the Pelicans last night, and hold the worst record in the league at 2-12.
I’m sure that next year with Curry, Dray, and Klay that the team will get back on track, but championships? I think those days are behind them.
So, did the Warriors get lucky?
Maybe in 2015 in 2017.
But they got absolutely ruined by luck in 2016 and 2019. Which just goes to show that injuries happen to everyone.
LeBron famously said in 2017 “They’ve had the best injury luck of anyone in the league so kuddos to them”
Well, that luck ran out in 2016, and although they won in 17 and 18 (in which LeBron played with a broken hand) they didn’t fare so well in ’19.
At the end of the day, the tables always turn. The lucky team yesterday is not the lucky team today. Golden State is now suffering what looks like a very long and disappointing season, and sometimes, coming from a Cavs fan, that’s just how it goes.
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