To no one’s surprise, the Golden State Warriors are in the Western Conference Finals for the third year in a row.
Q: Well, here we are eight games into the 2017 NBA playoffs and the Warriors have yet to lose a game. You know who else hasn’t lost a game in these playoffs? The Cleveland Cavaliers. Are the Warriors and Cavaliers on a collision course that no other team will be able to disrupt? Or, is there a worthy competitor out there that will dethrone one of the two teams before they meet for a third straight time on the NBA’s biggest stage?
A: Out east, it appears as though the Cleveland Cavaliers will not run into a worthy competitor until they meet one of the two remaining Western Conference superpowers in the Finals. Both the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics have a few things working against them. First off, their series is likely to go seven games, which means they’ll have to face up against a well-rested Cavaliers team after just losing a pound of flesh. Second off, neither of those teams has LeBron. The Cavaliers do have LeBron. Both of these reasons spell doom for the Wizards and Celtics.
Out west, the Warriors — much like the Cavaliers — have yet to face much competition. They’ve played the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers whom everyone knew weren’t a real threat to the two-time defending Western Conference Champions. Next round could be different, however. The Warriors will play either the Houston Rockets or the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these teams will present a legitimate challenge to the Warriors.
The Rockets play a similar brand of basketball to the Warriors. They like to get up and down the floor and get off shots at a prolific rate. If the Rockets can get hotter than the Warriors, they could be on their way to the NBA Finals.
The Spurs play the opposite of the Warriors. They like to slow the pace, work the offense, and beat you up inside. They probably present the biggest challenge to the Warriors out west, although, there is one problem. Kawhi Leonard apparently got hurt last night in Game 5 of the Spurs series vs. the Rockets. If Leonard isn’t 100 percent the Spurs will have no shot at beating the Warriors.
To answer the initial question, it appears as though the Warriors and Cavaliers are on a collision course that no other team will be able to disrupt. (Don’t bet against Gregg Popovich, however.)
Q: What the hell is wrong with Klay Thompson?
A: It hasn’t mattered because the Warriors are beating their opponents by like 20 points every game, but Klay Thompson has been awful in these playoffs. He’s currently averaging 16.1 points-per-game (PPG), 2.5 rebounds-per-game (RPG), and 1.8 assists-per-game (APG) on 41 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent shooting from three these playoffs. Those numbers aren’t completely terrible but let’s take a look at Thompson’s advanced playoff statistics.
Thus far in the 2017 playoffs, Thompson is posting a 9.6 player efficiency rating (PER), a -2.1 box plus/minus (BPM), .046 win shares per 48(WS/48), a .510 true shooting percentage (TS%), and a straight up 0.0 value over replacement player (VORP). These numbers aren’t just bad by Thompson’s standards; they’re bad by Iman Shumpert’s standards.
So what the hell is wrong with him? I honestly have no idea. Maybe it’s just a slump but I’d bet against that. Thompson’s regular season PER, BPM, WS/48, and VORP have all dipped over the past two years. This is just a continuation of the downward spiral Thompson has been on since the Warriors won the title two summers ago.
Q: If the Warriors win the title is Kevin Durant gone?
A: This is an interesting question. Reports came out the other day that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back on speaking terms. Maybe Durant’s plan all along was to bolt to the Bay Area, get an easy ring, and then bolt back to Oklahoma City — where his heart always was.
Durant is on a one-year contract with a player option that he’ll 2,000 percent opt out of so the choice will again be his. But, is that easy ring really going to come that easy?