LOS ANGELES — Wednesday will be the happiest day of the year for the Golden State Warriors. It’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving, or a day when championship rings will be handed out or banners hoisted.
For the rest of the NBA, it is a day that signifies a period of intense work is about to begin. For the Warriors, it feels like school’s out.
Yes, the most joyous window on the calendar for Steve Kerr’s troop of three-time titlists lands on April 10 this year, because that is when the end of the NBA regular season hits us. Six months of tireless slog will come to a close for 29 teams and six months of wretched boredom will cease for Golden State.
The Warriors’ ongoing glut of success has created a conundrum for them. Such is the strength of their talent pool and so stretched and forgiving is the NBA’s seasonal format, that everything since October has essentially been one, elongated, tiresome pre-season. While everyone else has been battling to get into the playoffs, or fighting for position, Golden State has been trying to stay awake.
They have sometimes done so by getting snippy with each other, because that is what happens when you throw a bunch of competitive folks together with little to focus on apart from how to kill time.
Draymond Green and Kevin Durant got famously feisty early in the campaign, railing at each other on the bench after Green kept the ball late in a tied game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The season is just getting started for the Warriors, Stephen Curry (left) and Kevin Durant. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)
Fast forward a few months and it seemed like Kerr was frazzled with Green’s antics as well, with amateur lip-readers having plenty of fun attempting to decipher the coach’s purportedly frustrated comments.
The ire is certainly far from being exclusively internal. Anyone can find themselves in the crossfire, even a…singer? Soon after the Durant vs. Green verbal title fight there was a locker room collaboration video whereby the Warriors united to roast performing artist Fergie and her estranged husband Josh Duhamel.
Duhamel had made the mistake of criticizing Green for laughing at Fergie's dismal national anthem performance at last year’s All-Star Game and, well, the Warriors had time on their hands.
DeMarcus Cousins could be forgiven for being more bored than anyone, given that he had to sit half the season while recuperating from injury. He kept himself busy by recording the team’s first ejection of the season, in a game he wasn’t even playing in.
Since then the Warriors have marked time by picking up just enough wins to comfortably clinch the Western Conference’s top seed, and by racking up a remarkable number of technical fouls.
Durant and Green are tied for second-most in the league with 15 and the Warriors collectively have more than any other franchise, at 0.7 per game.
They think the refs are against them and don’t mind showing it, most notably when Stephen Curry actively laughed in the face of one official after hitting a game-tying shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It just so happened that moments later the referees essentially decided that game by calling a contentious foul against Golden State, but you sensed the Warriors felt it was worth losing to get their digs in.
If you’re starting to get the sense that the Warriors sometimes willingly create drama through sheer boredom, let’s just say you might be onto something.
“In the playoffs you have to show more poise,” Kerr said recently. “Everything matters a little bit more.”
The Warriors know that already, better than anyone. They’ve actually lost a lot this season, to some teams where the mismatch was so big it belonged on Space Jam. At those times, after defeats to the likes of Phoenix and Dallas, it hasn’t seemed like a very happy family. Talk of Durant joining the New York Knicks as a summer free agent continues to swirl unabated.
But you can forget about all the discord for now, because while internal strife kills some teams it has no bearing on the Warriors and these playoffs.
In fact, the more angsty the Warriors were during the regular season, the more danger they might pose now. Finally, some worthy opponents are coming to the schedule. Finally, some games that matter are on the horizon.
In their title-winning seasons their playoff record has been 48-11, so they know how to switch off the nonsense and turn on the lights. They’re beatable, but only if a team – most likely Houston – produces an unbelievable performance. Four times.
The Warriors are motivated, activated, locked and loaded. They will take a hell of a lot of stopping. Recently, they’ve been pissed and losing, but not particularly pissed about the losing. They’ve just been mad because the meaningful part of the year was still months, or weeks, or days away. Now it’s here, and the most dangerous team in the NBA’s modern era has finished its warm-up and is ready to get started.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno
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