I have to admit, even I had my doubts about this team coming into the postseason after David Lee went down and without seeing much in terms of production out of Andrew Bogut. Instead though, the Warriors head into play Friday night looking to take a 2-1 lead over San Antonio in the Western Conference Semifinals.
As has been the case this whole season for Golden State, as each player goes down, it seems the Warriors just keep getting stronger and stronger. Early on, it was Andrew Bogut who couldn't get on the court, and many thought it would to a rough start for the Dubs. Then Festus Ezieli and Carl Landry each stepped up big and the Warriors instead thrived out of the gate. Coming into the postseason, just as Andrew Bogut starting finding his rythym, the Warriors lost their other big man, David Lee to what many thought would be a season-ending hip injury. After that happened, I don't think many outside of the Bay Area gave the Warriors a glimmer of hope in round one vs. Denver. Again though, they had other players step up and help overcome the loss of their 20-10 machine in Lee. Harrison Barnes has excelled in the postseason, Jarret Jack has been a steady veteran infleunce almost like Baron Davis was in 2007 and although it's taken a year and some change, the Warriors are finally reaping benefits from the Monta Ellis trade. It's taken a true team effort to get the Warriors to where they are. They really should be taking a 2-0 lead into the game Friday, but by coming back and taking game two after blowing that 16 point lead in the waning minutes of game one is a testament to what kind of fight this team has.
Now, the Warriors could lose the next three games, and be out of the tournament and it would still be considered a great season by Golden State's standards. The players know that, and I think that this team is really taking that underdog role and riding with it. It reminds me a lot of the Giants in 2010, as they weren't necessarily the best team in the game that year, but rode that late season momentum and became an unstoppable force in the playoffs. Mark Jackson's role in this run cannot be overlooked either, as he's seemingly pushed all the right buttons so far and has kept his team in the right mindset all year despite all the injuries. Jackson has this team in a defense first mind-set and they've all bought into the system and have executed it well. Since Lee went down, Jackson has had to mix and match starting lineups, going with a small, three-guard look with Jarret Jack, but he switched it up and used Draymond Green in the starting lineup Wednesday to give the team a little more defense. Despsite Green not lighting up the stat sheet, it worked out well defensively for Golden State and I wouldn't be surprised to see that same lineup take the court Friday night.
Note: David Lee is still listed as active for this series, but I highly doubt we'll see him make any kind of impact. That being said, should the Warriors advance past this round and make it to the Western Conference Finals, it wouldn't surprise me if #10 wills his way back into the starting lineup. He's still having some issues pushing off of his right leg, which would hamper his play inside, but he is practicing and is getting some of that strength back each day.