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sport / / Yahoo Sports: Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by Kings, marking the end of an era

o Yahoo Sports: Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by Kings, markRobin Miller

Yahoo Sports: Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by Kings, marking the end of an era


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From: robin.mi...@invalid.invalid (Robin Miller)
Subject: Yahoo Sports: Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by
Kings, marking the end of an era
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 16:44:44 -0400
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 by: Robin Miller - Wed, 17 Apr 2024 20:44 UTC

RM: This is quite well written.

Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by Kings, marking
the end of an era

Vincent Goodwill
Senior NBA reporter

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Stephen Curry finally got an open look, finally
curled around a screen to unleash one of those momentum-seizing,
crowd-quieting moonballs into the night.

The beleaguered look on his exhausted face wasn’t emblematic of the
result of the shot — it went in — but the official’s whistle blew to a
halt any thought Curry’s moment could turn into a movement.

An offensive foul on Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski was what sprung
him open.

This is what the death of a dynasty looks like. New faces, unable to
fully capture the rhythm of an offense with precise timing. Old faces,
unable to capture championship form that created the images tattooed in
our minds over the last decade.

The Golden State Warriors wore the jerseys of a champion, and at times
this season could conjure streaks producing optimism, but the end was
just, swift and decisive at the hands of the bloodthirsty Sacramento Kings.

Night, night.

The Warriors needed two road wins to qualify for the eighth seed in the
Western Conference playoffs but didn’t come close to meeting the first
requirement, their season ending at Golden 1 Center on Tuesday night,

If the ending was ugly, and it was certainly a comedy of errors, mishaps
and slow movements, the offseason could match their play-in efforts.
There’s a clarity to this that wasn’t around when they fell to the Los
Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals last May.

The specter of the Draymond Green-Jordan Poole incident hung over the
then-defending champions’ heads and spirits all last season, and no
resolution was to come until the summer when Poole was traded.

There’s no such excuse this time around, no way to rationalize the ifs
so many teams convince themselves of after an earlier-than-expected
dismissal from competition. It was a deep team, with signs of promise.
Somewhere within the mix of old and young was a good team, but it was
going to be impossible for a coach to locate — what was required to pull
the Warriors from the muck and back to prominence, and perfection, even
for champions multiple times over, is unrealistic.

Balancing the emergence of Podziemski and Jonathan Kuminga and Moses
Moody and others with the needs of the veterans is an impossible task.

The emotions of the night were raw, but it didn’t obscure what we all
saw, what they all felt. All the principles were in agreement.

“Physically took it to us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They
dominated us physically … total domination, they deserved it tonight.
Give them the credit.”

For years, the Warriors didn’t have to be bigger than anyone else — they
were faster to the ball, quicker with reflexes, and ready when
inflection points came to turn momentum or snatch away hope.

Curry could see it himself, pointing out the Kings got every 50-50 ball.
It’s a statement that’s almost cliche at this point, losing teams saying
the margin between that end result and getting to the other side is
minute. But on this night, it symbolized everything the Warriors no
longer have, everything other teams have figured out by watching.

With every Warriors championship run, teams were picking up cues.
Vestiges of championship DNA were left on the floors of vanquished
challengers, other franchises plucked away key personnel from the Bay
Area to divulge the secrets.

You could see it in the hugs Curry gave after the final buzzer,
embracing former teammate Leandro Barbosa, a member of the Kings
coaching staff. Kings veteran forward Harrison Barnes won a championship
with the Warriors in 2015, then departed when Kevin Durant was headed
there. Kings coach Mike Brown was a trusted assistant to Kerr for years
before taking the Kings job a year ago, and after watching Curry explode
for that 50-ball in Game 7 last year, the game plan was devised to
prevent the same result.

Curry was facing a pass rush, and found no lanes. If it wasn’t one set
of hands, it was another. If it wasn’t these Kings, it would’ve been
someone else, long limbed and confident, desperate to knock off NBA royalty.

“Tonight was an extreme version, they remember what happened last year,”
Curry said. “I know Mike B and the way he approaches the defensive end.
It doesn’t surprise me there were bodies everywhere. Tip your hat to
them. They took it to us the whole game, no way around it.”

Curry insisted he was fresh, that he would be ready for a playoff game
if one was to be played Friday, even if he struggled the last two months
of the year.

“I’m built for this and I put so much time in. There’s no sympathy, ‘Oh
you had this burden to carry.’ I did everything in my power to be
available and perform at the level I expect of myself. Again, I just
want to win and be in the best situation possible to make that happen.”

It’s been a hell of a ride, the way the Warriors have changed basketball
forever. The dancing on their graves only exists because of the broken
hearts and damaged psyches along the way.

In an era where dynasties aren’t supposed to exist in professional
sports, this one has endured longer than any expected. This Warriors
team has gone through various iterations of itself, players going from
youthful and fresh to aging and atrophied, and it even had to withstand
a real death in the unexpected passing of assistant coach Dejan
Milojević in January.

It all takes a toll, the memories of the great moments still so rich,
and the pain of what comes on the back end of sweat equity still so fresh.

“We've been through a lot of incredible highs. Some s***ty lows,”
Draymond Green said. “But the common denominator is that we've gone
through each and every scenario together.”

Green was referencing his teammate, Klay Thompson, who faces
unrestricted free agency in July. Thompson stuck around on the floor,
taking in the scene following the disappointing loss with full awareness
this could be his last game in a Warriors uniform.

And if it was, the taste will be hard to replace for someone so proud
and resilient. The man who returned from back-to-back ACL and Achilles
injuries, the 34-year-old who had a resurgent post-All Star break (18.9
points, 45 percent shooting, 41 percent from 3) couldn’t buy a basket
when the Warriors needed some relief for Curry. Thompson missed all 10
of his shots, including six from 3-point range, in 32 minutes.

Still, though, there was the acknowledgment from Curry and Green and
Kerr that Thompson is needed. It was the first time that trio has been
together and healthy that it didn’t qualify for the NBA playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s any scenario where Klay leaves and that’s the
best decision for this team and organization,” Green said. “They’ve
shown nothing but respect, loyalty, trust. They did right by me. They
did right by Steph, done right by all of us. Klay tore his ACL (in the
2019 NBA Finals). They paid him $160 million.”

“We need Klay back,” Kerr said. “I know he had a tough night tonight but
what he represents for us, the spacing. He’s still got good years left.
I know I speak for everybody, we want him back.”

“I could never see myself not with those two guys,” Curry said. “I
understand the league changes and you’re not gonna play forever. But
they want to win, I want to win. That’s all I’m worried about.”

The reality of the NBA beckons, the salary cap restrictions loom. Yes,
the Warriors have deep pockets and an endless reservoir of resources,
but players get more expensive as they age, and veteran point guard
Chris Paul has a non-guaranteed $30 million option the team has to
decide on — which could bring relief on the books, but pull them further
away from contention.

They’re below one of the two restrictive luxury tax aprons, but that’s
without Thompson or draft picks.

And then there’s the other reality that’s connected to the financials,
where parity is said aloud — Green acknowledged it in his postgame presser.

Kerr said 46 wins would’ve been enough, in a normal year, to be in the
middle of the playoff picture.

But this isn’t a normal year — not in the NBA and certainly not in the
Western Conference. And for a team like the Warriors, next year doesn’t
sound so appealing — it feels like this could be an ushering of them
closer to the bottom than they already are, being 10th of 15 teams.

“I view that as the league has gotten better. You’re either getting
better or getting worse, and I think the league has improved,” Green
said. “I don’t necessarily view it as, next year if we got 46, we would
be the four seed or the six seed. We gotta figure it out.”

Green snaps his fingers, saying he could count off six wins his team
gave away — and honestly, it’s probably more. Green’s early-season
suspension and, later, sabbatical for on-floor incidents certainly
didn’t help, and it’s unrealistic to expect for him to turn into a model
citizen over the next couple years, regardless of circumstances.

Click here to read the complete article

sport / / Yahoo Sports: Death of a dynasty: Warriors' playoff hopes crushed by Kings, marking the end of an era


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