The Golden State Warriors have faced their fair share of criticism over the past year. They didn’t have to face the injury-ravaged Oklahoma City Thunder or the formidable San Antonio Spurs in the 2015 playoffs. If you ask Doc Rivers, they were awfully lucky to avoid the Los Angeles Clippers as well. They played the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals, a team without double-double machine Kevin Love for the entire series, and without all-star Kyrie Irving for all but one game. Even though the Warriors went on to win the 2015 NBA Finals 4-2, many analysts and fans thought the Warriors were the beneficiaries of an easy road to their championship.
The 2015-16 regular season wasn’t much different. Despite posting the best single season record of all time at 73-9 and starting off the season with 24 consecutive wins, the Warriors still had naysayers. Critics questioned whether or not head coach Steve Kerr was as valuable as he was initially thought to be after back surgery sidelined him for more than half of the season. Assistant coach Luke Walton stepped in and led the team to a 39-4 record in his absence. The entire season seemed to be filled with criticism from former NBA stars, suggesting that this year’s Warriors team would not last in the physically aggressive NBA culture of the past. Many claimed that they wouldn’t stack up against the (now previously) record-holding Bulls of the mid-1990s.