They made history and set records, they answered every run with crowd-silencing daggers, they sweated the small details like getting back on defense in the first quarter, they invented new maneuvers like blocking the same shot with the right hand and then the left, they proved too much for a legendary coach, they completely erased one opposing star, and they even pushed pause to properly honor another one.
The Warriors did all that while clinching their third straight trip to the Finals, and they weren’t the slightest bit impressed by any of it.
Yes, this organization—the one that embodied the perils of complacency, premature celebration and borderline arrogance last June—has pursued its redemption with a ludicrously talented roster. But its undefeated run through the Western Conference finals has been driven as much by its composure and discipline as by its unfair collection of All-Stars and well-fitting role players. The Warriors may get the last laugh after being the butt of 3–1 jokes for the past 11 months, but they weren’t about to get a head start on the yakking.
Golden State soundly defeated San Antonio 129-115 at the AT&T Center on Monday, sweeping Gregg Popovich and company out of the Western Conference finals. In so doing, the Warriors became the first team ever to advance to the Finals with a perfect 12-0 record. They posted +16.3 point differential along the way, also a pre-Finals record, and they joined the Lakers as just the second organization to be tabbed Western Conference champions in three straight years.
“They’re really talented, but that’s not the whole equation,” said Popovich, whose Spurs had only been swept out of the playoffs two previous times during his 21-year coaching tenure. “This is maybe the best defensive team in the league. On offense, no team is more unselfish finding the open man. Coaches are always trying to get their teams to do that. … They deserve a lot more credit than, ‘They’re talented and they’re supposed to win.’ That is disrespectful to them in my book. They’re way, way more than just their talent.”