LOS ANGELES — Oops, the shouts, music, and moving performance of “Happy Birthday” were so loud inside the Lakers locker room that they could almost be heard in the hallways. Outside the Golden State locker room, there was silence, as those inside took stock of what went wrong this season.
To the victor goes the hype. To the defeated goes unusually early and sullen leave.
The Golden State champion’s 3-point freestyle play changed the NBA and made Stephen Curry a household name. But on Friday night, the team couldn’t muster one last crushing wave of deep shooting, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals.
It was the first time West Golden State had been defeated in the playoffs during the Dynasty, which began in 2015 with the first of four championships led by Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. But this season has been among the toughest of the past decade, marred by the long absence of key players, a disconcerting inability to win on the road, faltering young players, and the green-punching fallout of teammate Jordan Paul, even before the season. I started.
“This is not a championship team,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after Game 6, which the Lakers won, 122-101. “If we are, we’ll move on. So you can look at the year in total and see all the ups and downs, there were all kinds of things that happened and adversity that happened. But our group stuck together and competed until the end and did really well.”
But “very good” has long fallen short of Golden State standards, given the stature of Curry, who is widely considered the best shooter in NBA history. And now his team may have to deal with returning to Earth. It’s the equivalent of basketball to face death.
“I was disappointed and kind of shell-shocked that it was over,” Carey said. “You spend a lot every season, but last year you came out trying to defend and give ourselves the chance to keep going. It’s a tough way to finish the season.”
The series against the Lakers was one of the most anticipated playoff games in years, pitting Curry against Lakers superstar LeBron James for the first time since the 2018 NBA Finals, when James was on the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the series ultimately didn’t match the hype, with blowouts in four out of five games after a thrilling Lakers win in Game One. Curry and Thompson struggled on Friday, combining to shoot a bad 14-for-47 from the field. Thompson, who only made three baskets in each of the last three games, said this was “probably the worst shooting streak I’ve had in a long time”.. “
The Golden State is now facing an uncertain summer. Carey called it “unfamiliar territory”. With one of the most expensive rosters in the league, and a new collective bargaining agreement intended to rein in hard spenders, the Golden State will likely try to cut costs. It could be a stark turnaround for the team, given that it’s gone from a middle-of-the-road franchise to one of the most financially valuable with Curry at the helm over the past decade.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to take stock of where we are, and to maintain confidence that we can come back and come back at this point next year,” Carey said.
It might help if they get off to a better start. This season, Green punched fourth-year guard Paul in the face during training camp. TMZ posted a punch-hole video, exposing the franchise’s inner rift known for its continuity and harmony.
“Each season consists of events. Green said after Friday’s game. “I think for this team, more of the not-so-great goings-on were very generic, and, you know, that’s not something you normally do. And so the world knows, you know, the hard times that this team has had.”
Now Green’s career is at a turning point. A four-time All-Star, he has a player option for next year and is expected to test free agency. Greene had one of them Better seasons this year, But he will be 34 years old next March, and Golden State may hold back from offering him the maximum contract. Green displayed a penchant for reckless behaviour, such as punching urine or making technical fouls, as he finished second in the league during the regular season. Resolving his contract is the main domino of his retooling summer.
“I want to be a warrior for the rest of my life,” Green said Friday. “I want to ride with the same guys I rode with.”
This season was a torch for Golden State. “I felt like we were swimming upstream from the start,” Kerr said.
Golden State started the season 3-7. Finished at 44-38 for the sixth seed in the West and had one of the Worst road records in the league, at 11-30. Andrew Wiggins, a major contributor last season, missed more than half of the regular season due to an injury and an undisclosed personal issue. A five-time All-Star, Thompson struggled to find his shot in the first third of the season and has slowed significantly on defense after two major injuries in recent years.
If Thompson, 33, had doubts about his future at Golden State, or any doubts that this team could win again, it didn’t show on Friday night. His contract expires after the next season.
“I can tell you, we’ve given it our all,” he said. “But I think we’ve got greatness in our future so far.”
Golden State will also have to decide what to do with the young players it has tried to develop while chasing a championship – a path that has been criticized for putting too much of a burden on the 35-year-old Curry. Paul, 23, struggled mightily in the playoffs, which is a problem given that Golden State signed him to the Contract extension for four years in October, with a value of up to $140 million. Other young players, such as Jonathan Cuminga and Moses Moody, both aged 20, have been in and out of the squad all season.
In addition to holding General Manager Bob Myers for the past decade, This year ends. The transfer of the dynasty to its next stage may fall to a different architect.
If there’s been a bright spot for Golden State this season, it’s been its most charismatic character: Curry. He played some of the best basketball in his career – which means some of the best basketball anyone has ever played. In the first round of the playoffs, Golden State faced the third-seeded Kings in Sacramento in a decisive Game 7. Curry scored 50 points—the most ever in a Game 7—and hit seven 3-pointers. It was a reminder of the magic that made his teams so great.
But Curry said on Friday that reaching the conference semifinals wasn’t a “moral victory.”
“There is a lot of pride in what we have accomplished, but there is also an understanding that this is not good enough,” he said. “
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