Lodi News-Sentinel

The Warriors have one timeline for success — Curry’s

- Dieter Kurtenbach THE MERCURY NEWS

SAN FRANCISCO — Kendrick Lamar’s voice echoed through the Warriors’ locker room:

“We gon’ be alright…Do you hear me? Do you feel me? We gon’ be alright.”

After Saturday’s Golden State comeback win over the Bucks, it was a fitting song choice.

At some point, this incredible Warriors run will end. The four-time champions will no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt and will fade away, likely back to the mediocrity that defined this team for decades.

No one knows how or when that end will arrive. We know it’s unlikely to be big, bold, or overt. The Warriors snuck up on the NBA when they won their first title in 40 years in 2015. The end will likely be just as surreptiti­ous.

But the first 45 minutes of Saturday’s game with Milwaukee felt like it could be the end. After a winless road trip, the Warriors returned home and played better, but still trailed by 8 points with 3:15 to play.

Milwaukee — arguably the NBA’s best team — was showing the Warriors exactly how far they had fallen not only from last season but from the salad days of the dynasty.

Is it hyperbole to suggest the end was nigh?

I don’t think so.

Then again, I’m taking my cues from Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

This Warriors team has taken every excuse offered to lose games this season. Saturday could have easily been another such contest deemed meaningles­s midgame.

But instead, the Warriors’ core three fought like there was something greater than just a regular-season game on the line.

There was weight to that contest.

And if Saturday was, indeed, the end approachin­g, Curry, Thompson, and Green fended it off for a few days, at least.

The three — but particular­ly Curry — were spectacula­r in the final eight minutes of the contest (three at the end of reg

ulation, five in overtime.)

It was a reminder that the difference between good and great players is the ability to perform when the stakes are highest.

The Warriors’ triumvirat­e has four rings to prove their bonafides there.

And that core can still raise their game to that great level when needed.

Curry was downright transcende­ntal Saturday, scoring the Warriors’ final 11 points in regulation and giving the team a chance to win the game at the buzzer with a game-saving block with 2.2 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

It was reminiscen­t of his NBA Finals performanc­es, where put the Warriors on his back and carried them to victory.

But Thompson made big defensive plays and shots, and Green orchestrat­ed it all.

“Championsh­ip stuff,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That is the team that won four titles. They know how to do it. They got it done tonight.”

Saturday was big for the Warriors. Saturday was reaffirmin­g, too. I won’t call Saturday a turning point for this team, because they’ve already cited a few this season, and I’m reasonably certain this team has turned so often they’re back at their original place.

But all you need to do is watch Curry and company fight back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

And if you saw Curry’s reaction to the win and his clutch play, you’d know Saturday’s contest was so much heavier than just one win for the Dubs.

As the final moments trickled off the clock in overtime — the victory securely in hand — an overtly exhausted Curry didn’t so much pump his fist as he delivered a haymaker to the air.

It’s fair to wonder if the Warriors’ top players had to fight too hard for a basic regular-season game. If every contest from here on out will require this much effort to win, what will be left in the tank for the postseason?

But what would there be to play for if Curry and the veterans didn’t empty the tank on Saturday?

This organizati­on can push a “two-timeline” agenda all it wants, but success on the Warriors’ level isn’t meant to be sustained, much less repeated with in-house options. This team will go as Curry and his veteran compatriot­s go.

He is the timeline.

And Saturday’s win over the Bucks — and the performanc­e of the veterans down the stretch — gives the Warriors another lifeline. it maintains some plausible deniabilit­y that this team is still a contender.

No one knows how long that will last. But on Saturday — if only for a night — it was fair to say that the Warriors will be alright.

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