Stephen Curry reacts during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game two of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.

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Keidel: Good Fortune Helping Warriors Inch Towards Third Title

Jason Keidel
June 05, 2018 - 10:33 am
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There is some heft to the argument that the refs stole Game 1 of the NBA Finals from the Cavaliers and handed it to the Warriors. But it still took JR Smith's epic brain cramp and head coach Ty Lue not telling his team they had a timeout left to seal the deal, the game, and perhaps the NBA title. 

And thus the surreal events surrounding Game 1 - which led to the Game 2 shelling - turned a potentially classic NBA Finals into a possible four-game laugher for the Warriors. One more win Wednesday night and the Warriors will moonwalk to their third NBA title in four years. Whether luck is random or the residue of preparation, the truth is that Golden State is swathed in the stuff. 

Luck, that is. They slide down 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals, and in the last, meaningless seconds of Game 5, Rockets All-Star PG Chris Paul pops his hamstring. Paul didn't play another minute, and the Warriors squeaked by the Rockets in seven games. And then they needed a grotesque series of bad calls and bad play to win the first game of the NBA Finals.

Whatever the Warriors have going for them - call it mojo or good fortune - they are already bulletproof when they're clicking on the court. Then give them a game in the NBA Finals, especially against the woefully outmatched Cavs, and it's a wrap. 

>>MORE: Tempers Boiling Over In Fourth Straight NBA Finals Meeting

Even still, this series has plots and subplots that will ripple through the league next season and beyond.

Will a four-game assault send LeBron James into delirium, or revive his hardwood wanderlust? Will he get the itch to leave his beloved Cleveland again? Can the team or town survive another heartbreak that LeBron's leaving would surely create? 

As great as LeBron continues to be - you could argue this is his best playoff performance ever - his bond with his native Ohio is almost a curse. Cleveland and the Cavs are so fervently tethered to him that he represents the best and worst times in franchise history. They're a 60-win club when he's home, a 20-win club when he scratches that hardwood itch elsewhere. And the fear is that if LeBron is swept off the court this week, he will move to a team better suited to his talents. 

Then we have the Warriors. How long will they be this good? Adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team was overkill, making them bulletproof, the talk and chalk of the sport last year, this year, and next  year. But winning has a way of poisoning even the most pristine souls. Eventually, money tears great teams apart in the salary-cap era. 

For instance, Klay Thompson, the unspoken glue that keeps the club balanced, will be a free agent after next season. 

Thompson, who makes $17.8 million this season, is quite underpaid by NBA standards. At some point, money becomes the emblem of respect, and Thompson makes less than George Hill and Kevin Love, neither of whom come close to Thompson's skill set. Thompson is also low on his team's monetary totem pole. Next season, Thompson ($18.9 million) will make less than half of Curry's $37.4 million salary. He will also make considerably less than Durant, who is not a homegrown player. 

There are myriad reasons dynasties are so hard to build. First you must gather the talent. Then they must be of similar age, wage, and ego. Then, assuming they stay healthy, you have to pay them commensurate to their skills, yet keep it all under the cap. The Warriors have checked those boxes long enough to make this impressive run, which will almost surely include another ring over the next week. But it will end, either next year, or the year after.

And yes, it takes luck to be this good and this healthy for this long. Even with all the acumen the Warriors have displayed while building this juggernaut, they still needed Chris Paul to come up lame, and for Game 1 of these Finals to break six ways their way. 

Maybe whipping the Cavs in Cleveland would bring some bad luck back to Oakland. Especially if LeBron James joins the Houston Rockets.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel