The Golden State Warriors, who are gunning for their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance, open the playoffs Sunday against Portland. The Warriors (67-15) went 15-1 in their final 16 games of the regular season, and Kevin Durant is back and healthy for the postseason.
The Warriors are going to destroy everyone, right?
“Well, that assumes two things, though,” NBC Sports Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “One, that they can spend as little time as possible in the first two rounds because I think one of the things we’ve seen historically is teams that get through the first two rounds early are fresher and less likely to have injuries when it gets to crunch time. And two, injuries. They were not entirely healthy last year going down the stretch, particularly (Steph) Curry.”
Granted, Golden State beat Portland in five games last postseason, but the final three games were particularly taxing. Golden State lost Game 3, needed overtime to win Game 4, and survived Game 5, 125-121. The Warriors then needed seven games to beat Oklahoma City, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit in the process.
“That’s not why Cleveland beat them – and all credit to them,” Ratto said. “But they had to expend a lot of energy beating Portland in the second round, and it showed when they played Oklahoma City in the conference finals and it showed in the tail end of the Finals. So I think they need a little bit of luck and they need to be injury-free, but if they have that little bit of luck – which means they don’t have to expend themselves early and they don’t get anybody hurt – I think they ultimately win it all. And if they don’t, they better have a damn good explanation.”
Sunday’s tip-off is at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Ratto also weighed in on the NFL Draft from the 49ers’ standpoint. John Lynch needs a great draft – for many reasons.
“Look, they get 10 picks, and the most important thing is not whether they move the (No. 2 overall) pick or keep (it); it’s that they have a great draft,” Ratto said. “And I don’t mean a good draft – I mean a great one, where they get four starters they can hang their hats on for a good long time. That’s the only way to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. They’re a bad team across the baord, and so they have to have a draft almost like the one the Raiders had when they got (Derek) Carr and (Khalil) Mack. They have to get game-changers, and they have to get more than two if they’re going to start to turn this around.”