How the Warriors Benefit from Missing the NBA’s Orlando Bubble in 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — In a five-year span from 2015 to 2019, the Warriors made five straight NBA Finals — winning three of them — and Golden State played 105 more in the playoffs game. That’s an extra regular season, plus another 23 games.

They are exhausted in every way.

Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. The Warriors ran out of energy and saw another championship spin out of control for reasons beyond their control.

Then there’s the 2019-20 regular season.

Durant has joined the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent. Thompson will miss an entire year. Playing four games this season, Stephen Curry fractured his hand and will play one more game the rest of the season. The Warriors ended the NBA’s worst record with a 15-50 record before the league shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That season was nothing short of a new low for these Warriors, who are now reaping the rewards of returning to the Finals. Players like Jordan Poole had to learn on the fly that season. Like most rookies, he struggled without Curry and Thompson around. Now, as integral to the success of the third Splash Brother and the Golden State, Poole sees the bigger picture.

“It’s huge,” Poole said Wednesday when asked how important it was to him to get minutes as a rookie. “Being able to pick my spot, feel the rhythm of the game, and see the difference between college and the NBA. Figure out a way to fit that into the 15-win season we’ve had and make my game better.

“It’s a blessing in disguise of course.”

Another blessing in disguise is that the Warriors missed the NBA’s Orlando bubble when the season resumed.

The bubble is made up of 22 teams, 16 of which have made the playoffs, with six more teams in six games in the playoffs. Obviously, the Warriors are not one of them. For three months, the NBA has isolated itself at Disney World as training camp begins on July 9 and the Finals run through October 11.

Kerr is glad the Warriors aren’t involved. It’s the last thing they need.

“I think the pandemic year was our worst year in the league and I think it’s been very helpful not to go to the bubble,” Kerr told reporters on Monday. Every year in the game, going to the Finals and getting hurt. I think leaving is the best thing to do to rejuvenate our players.”

There were eight teams not invited to Orlando to talk about the Chicago bubble, but that never materialized. More than six months after the pandemic-shortened regular season ended, the Warriors gathered collectively for the first time at the Chase Center from Sept. 23 to Oct. 6 for a voluntary minicamp. Curry and Draymond Green weren’t there, but Thompson was, and that’s what the Warriors might look like in the near future until he tragically tore his Achilles tendon in late November 2020.

But Kevin Rooney looks as healthy as ever after playing just 20 games in the 2019-20 season, and Poole has amazed countless people with his work ethic during the minicamp.

The final four teams in the Orlando bubble are the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Heat in six games in the Finals. In those six games, Anthony Davis averaged 25.0 points and 10.7 rebounds for the Lakers.

He’s been limited to 76 games the past two seasons, which isn’t even a full season.

The Lakers had to beat the Warriors in the playoffs the season after winning the title before losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers in six games in the first round before being swept by the Suns. The Celtics and Heat both lost in the first round — Boston lost to Brooklyn in five games and Miami was swept by the Milwaukee Bucks.

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The Heat have played 43 playoff games over the past three seasons. The Celtics played 40 games and the Warriors played 16. With the Heat finally playing seven games against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, rest, recovery and health could play a big role in the Warriors and Celtics’ race to the eventual title.

Going into the Finals, the Celtics had to endure back-to-back seven-game series. Their brightest star, Jayson Tatum, played more than three hours more than Curry. As the Warriors look to bring back Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala, all three having questionable performances in Game 1, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams II are also likely to open the series, expected in Game 1. – The rest of the way today.

The Warriors would never trade their previous five Finals trips or any of the 105 extra games they played in that span. But taking a breath and being able to reassess from top to bottom brought them back to the top. Maybe it’s really good to take a break from time to time.

The term is about to become an afterthought, though. Especially if it means another championship parade at the Bay.

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