Game-changing Warriors send NBA rivals back to drawing board

Game-changing Warriors send NBA rivals back to drawing board
They stand like this monolith on the NBA horizon , the Golden State Warriors do, this gargantuan object thrusting a shadow over the rest of the league, imposing and seemingly impenetrable and a target.

They have revolutionized the way the game is played, as the Phoenix Suns did with their frenetic pace of the mid-2000s, playing positionless basketball and firing up shots whenever they feel like it.

In a league that’s more copycat than some teams would like to admit, they’ve changed the way some front offices operate.

Is that a good thing?

Can two all-star guards in Houston — a team that loves the three-pointer more than any other — match them? Do Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony and Paul George work as an antidote to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant?

“My theory has been, if you’re going to play like Golden State you’re going to lose, because they’re better at it. They’ve proven that,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said this month.

“Why be that? The team that finally beats them, if that does happen, will be a team that plays differently than that. They’ll play their own style and they’ll perfect that and that’ll be good enough.

“Anybody that’s trying to play like the champions usually aren’t very successful. I found that out in Boston. I remember Cleveland ran our offence — literally ran our offence, calling the same sets — and I remember thinking on the sidelines: we’re better than that, so they’re not going to beat us that way, and they didn’t.”

It was the craziest NBA off-season in years, a summer where:

It has been wildly entertaining and landscape shaping and a perfect buildup to a regular season full of intrigue.

But now it’s time to play games and see if anyone can catch the overwhelmingly favoured Warriors, the winners of two of the last three championships, who return every significant player from the team that laid waste to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers last June.

It has been interesting to see how teams have reacted to the mere presence of the Warriors and the obstacle they present.

A handful have cowered into rebuilding modes with the hopes that by the time they peak, the Warriors’ run will be over.

Some — like Houston with Paul joining James Harden, and Oklahoma City, with its big three — have taken up the challenge by amassing as much talent as they can.

“I trust Russ, I trust Carmelo, that they are going to do whatever is best for the team,” George told reporters. “I trust they are going to knock that shot down. Really, I have no concern when it comes to that. I know with those guys, they are going to give us a chance to win. That’s ultimately what we want.”

The East is seen as NBA Lite everywhere. The movement of star players to the West lowered the level in the conference even more than it was. And even the conference champion Cavaliers, who have met the Warriors in three straight NBA finals, changed their roster to chase the champions. They have three new starters — Derrick Rose replaces Irving, Dwyane Wade over J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder over Tristan Thompson — searching for improvement.

“I think we’ll be a lot better off,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think we got a lot of different pieces. We’re deeper — a lot of versatile players, a lot of different lineups we can play. So it will be different, but I think we have a better chance, yes.”

But it truly is to each their own when it comes to solving the riddle of the Warriors. Some teams try to mimic their style of play. Others, correctly, try to perfect what they are.

“When you’re building a team, you’ve got to build the team you think can be the best team for you,” Rivers said, “not follow the Golden State plan.”
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