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For the Warriors, what’s old is new again

Stephen Curry’s hair was quite a bit longer when the Golden State Warriors’ run of NBA Finals appearances started back in 2015. His body was quite a bit spryer back then too. But as the basketball world focuses intently on the Warriors’ future — with Kevin Durant approaching free agency — Curry and his teammates have been looking a lot like the original group that started this dynastic run.

“That’s when we first learned to play like this,” Curry told ESPN late Tuesday night after scoring 36 points in a 116-94 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. “We’re in that flow again.”nike nfl jerseys for cheap

That flow is what made the Warriors “the Warriors” all those years ago. More than Curry’s 3-point shooting or Draymond Green’s positional versatility, Golden State’s identity was formed by its ability to flow. To move the ball. Make the extra pass. Run off screens. Create a collective energy that overwhelms defenses focused on individual matchups. When the Warriors are humming, it’s the basketball equivalent of a great jazz band. Each player has his solo moments to shine, but they have to harmonize and flow together to elevate as a group and win.1

Over the five seasons, all sorts of things have disrupted this flow. Ego, hubris, complacency, fatigue. Some would point to Durant’s individual brilliance as another force that can disrupt. But that would be reductionist.

The Warriors can flow just fine with Durant. They just don’t have to.

“Kevin moves well too,” Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser explained. “But sometimes, he’s so good he doesn’t have to. You just throw him the ball.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

With Durant sidelined due to a calf injury over the past two and a half games, the Warriors have had to go back to a simpler time. To the way they played before Durant changed the NBA landscape in 2016.

It was a hell of a run. The Warriors were fun and new and relatable to kids with Curry as their baby-faced assassin. Winning started to change that reputation. But really, it was adding Durant that turned the Warriors into the bully.

The Warriors have never particularly enjoyed being the villain. Their style is joyous, so it hurts their collective soul to find motivation elsewhere.

And with Durant out these past few games, they’ve been able to recapture what this used to feel like.

“You see the morale, like everybody’s shoulders are up and smiles,” Curry said. “Just aggressiveness all over the floor, whether that’s setting a screen or swing, swing or cutting hard, all that type of stuff. When you create good shots that way, it’s fun for everybody.”