Draymond Green basked in the Golden State Warriors’ third Western Conference title, because he and his teammates deserved to. But the celebration was neither extensive nor prolonged. Watching it, you seriously wouldn’t have known the Warriors became the first team to run through their conference’s bracket with a perfect 12-0 record.
Which, it seems, is just how they wanted it to be.
As Green said, per USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
“You never come into the playoffs expecting like ‘Oh man, we’re going to sweep every series.’ It’s a great thing. But at the end of the day, had we went 4-3, 4-3, 4-3 — we’d still be in the same position. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean too much.
“It means we got a little more rest, we played a few less games, but it’s not like you get some trophy or something for being undefeated throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs. Like I’ve stated before, it’s about winning the championship, and we’re four games away from that. If that’s 4-0, great. If it’s 4-3, great. It doesn’t matter how you get those four wins, as long as you get them, and that’s our goal.”
This feat would mean more if the Warriors hadn’t already been here before, in each of the last two years, preparing for an NBA Finals appearance. Teams become hardened to preliminary levels of success when they’re chasing the ultimate prize every season.
And for the Warriors, they have an extra incentive to be focused on the Finals, where a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers likely awaits. They were one win away from securing their second-straight title, owners of a 3-1 series lead, last June. Then Green’s Game 5 suspension happened. Then LeBron James happened. And then the Warriors crumbled.
To them, and to mostly everyone, this season will be a failure if it doesn’t end with them holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s what they are focused on—not their perfect postseason to date, but the chance that run of perfection has earned them.