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Murph: The Warriors can beat Portland without KD, but what about beyond that?

© Kelley L Cox | 2019 May 16

All credit to the Cache Creek Text Line, which provides laughs daily, and provided this gem during the week from the 925:

“It’s like Yogi Berra might say: the Warriors are better with KD, but they’re just not as good.”

File that one right there with “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”, and “It ain’t over til it’s over” in terms of Yogi-isms. Come to think, the late Yogi Berra would have made for a helluva texter.

But you feel what 925 is saying, right?

The Warriors are better with Kevin Durant . . . but they’re just not as good as they are without him.

As in, there is no earthly way you want to see Durant leave the Warriors this summer.

And yet, as the last 3-plus games (Games 1 and 2 vs Portland in the Western Conference Finals, and Game 6 and the fourth quarter of Game 5 vs Houston in the Western Conference semifinals) prove, there is life without KD.

So much life, that Steph Curry is a staggering 29-1 in games where Durant does not play.

Is the ‘No-KD Model’ sustainable to close out Portland? You know it is.

Is the ‘No-KD Model’ sustainable to win the NBA Finals vs Milwaukee or Toronto? You know . . . it might be.

The reasons are fairly obvious why they can still win without Durant, but we can go through them:

— The team does not rely on Durant to bail them out in half-court possessions, and as a result move the ball around the team much more democratically.

— Curry and Klay Thompson do not defer to Durant’s otherworldly scoring skills, and touch the ball more.

— In search of more minutes and relief for Curry and Thompson, coach Steve Kerr is forced to dip deeper into his bench, thus allowing room for the likes of Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko and, yes, even Jordan Bell to flourish.

(Side note: The Cache Creek Text Line came through again this morning when a listener wrote in during the 6 am hour, “Looks like someone lit a candle under Jordan Bell’s a**.” Hey oh!)

In short, the phrase “Strength In Numbers” goes from meaning the “Numbers” of Durant’s record-breaking post-season scoring spree to the “Numbers” of different Warriors contributing to wins.

Now, for a dose of reality.

Over 82 regular season games, a world without Durant would mean an untold amount more stress and fatigue on Steph and Klay’s already-tired bodies. And the journey to the NBA Finals mountaintop the last two Junes has been reliant on KD to plant the flag atop the peak, both times. Go see his two NBA Finals MVPs as proof.

But should Durant fulfill everyone’s dark vision and sign with the New York Knicks, Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers should know that Curry, at age 31; Thompson, at age 29; and Draymond Green, at age 29, would still make the Warriors championship contenders for the next couple of seasons.

Again, this is not to endorse a Durant departure. Durant in the Chase Center is Lacob’s dream, along with world domination and booking Beyonce and Drake in his new Mission Bay playpen.

Put it this way. A week ago, the Jock Blog wrote excitedly about the Warriors’ chances to go all 2015 in Houston in Game 6; that Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andre and even Shaun Livingston and Andrew Bogut had a chance to take us all back to the innocent days of the mid-decade, and remind Warriors fans that the O.G.s still had it.

That Jock Blog came true. They beat Houston in what most of us agree was one of, if not the, favorite win of the Kerr Era.

Here we are, a week later, two wins from becoming the first team to go to five consecutive NBA Finals since the Bill Russell Celtics. And they’re doing it without Durant.

It’s sort of remarkable. And a reminder of the power of Steph, Klay, Draymond, ball movement and team defense.

Now, if you want to talk about life without Andre Iguodala?

That’s a whole ‘nother Jock Blog, sports fans.


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