When the Golden State Warriors were grinding their way through the regular season, concerns about the ability to win on the road became prevalent, and for good reason. The Warriors were 11-30 in road games during the campaign.
While the record was concerning, the thinking in some circles was Golden State will find a way to figure things out, and come playoff time, they'll come through and win road games. Having a core group that has won four championships in the last eight seasons will have NBA fans willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
After the end of the regular season, the Warriors found themselves matching up with the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and yes, the series would begin in Sacramento. For the people who have Golden State winning the series, it was a forgone conclusion they would find a way to win at least one of the two games at the raucous Golden 1 Center.
What actually happened is a different story. It was the Kings who won the first two games, pouring more gasoline on the Warriors' road struggles. Any time Golden State made a run that would seemingly put fear into the young, untested Sacramento squad, the Kings responded with punches of their own, and ultimately landed the knockout blows.
Now, the Warriors find themselves in an unfamiliar spot, down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series. In the world we live in, there is a lot of instant reaction that says the defending champs are in trouble, and this series is just about over. I'm here to say that's not the case, and I have three reasons why that is. Before I get into those reasons, let's remember despite what the mainstream media puts out, it is the Kings who are the higher seed. So in essence, they did what they're technically supposed to do and took care of the home court.
1. The Warriors are the defending champs for a reason
It's true Golden State is in uncharted waters at this time, with never being down 2-0 in a series since Steve Kerr became the head coach before the 2014-15 season. Having said that, the Warriors didn't get to where they have been without facing their share of adversity along the way. This isn't the first time a must-win game is staring at them.
The only difference is if they do lose Game 3 Thursday night, Golden State will face a scenario that has literally never been conquered in NBA history, which is the fact no team has ever been down 3-0 and came back to win the series. The Warriors will be aware of this, and their best game of the season should be expected.
Let's not kid ourselves. The Kings are for real, and it doesn't appear they'll be going away any time soon. All that said, if there's anyone who can comeback from being down two games in a series, I would put money on Golden State. They're tried, proven and have withstood the tests of time. I just have to see Sacramento actually put them down before I believe it.
2. Golden State still has the splash brothers and the enforcer
When it comes to the Warriors' championship pedigree, no one embodies that more than the splash brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and their enforcer, Draymond Green (assuming Green doesn't get suspended anytime soon). There are other teammates who have title experience, but Curry, Thompson and Green will be the ones setting the tone.
Players like this love the challenge of doing something that isn't common, and if they don't have that in front of them, they'll search it out. As long as Curry and Thompson (in particular) can step into the gym, the Warriors always have a chance because of their shooting ability, and Green's intangibles provide the balance needed to lead to the victory.
Another thing the trio brings is a trust in the process, meaning it's about getting the game that's in front of them, and worrying about the rest later. Lot's of knowledge and recall comes from experience, and that's crucial for this time of year.
3. Home cookin'
Just as bad as Golden State has been on the road, they have been equally as good at home. The Warriors were 33-8 as the hosts, and they will be there for the next two games of this series. It's understood being at home doesn't guarantee anything, but it's definitely better than playing in the noise chamber that is Sacramento.
All of these reasons seem pretty simple, but in this case, simplicity is all that's needed. Golden State has been knocked down, but they can definitely get back up. In other words, lets not mark the Warriors as dead yet.