FILE PHOTO: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) moves the ball as center JaVale McGee (1) provides the screen against Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) during the first half at Staples Center, October 30, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – With each passing trip to the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors add to the championship miles that threaten to stall their run.
The price of continued excellence in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the grind of long seasons and the challenge of sustaining concentration throughout.
Having reached the last three NBA Finals, winning two, the Warriors have shown signs of such weariness during their inconsistent 5-3 start to the campaign.
But helping to balance the redundancy of another Golden State regular season is the insertion of new faces.
Reserves like Omri Casspi of Israel, Nick Young and rookie Jordan Bell will not steal any headlines from Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant this season but their arrival is invaluable to the Warriors’ long journey.
“It’s always important to add some new guys, new blood to a championship team,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Reuters following his team’s 141-113 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
“I think that’s where Omri, and Nick and Jordan Bell come into play. They will help us through the year for sure.”
When the Warriors enter each off-season to target acquisitions it is not just to retool, but to refresh.
Last season, veteran pick ups like David West, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee renewed the team’s spirit and helped propel another title run.
The Warriors are counting on the same effect from this year’s fresh faces.
Chemistry and good vibes aside, Casspi brings versatility at 6-foot-9 as a ball handler and passer; Young is a fun-loving streak shooter and Bell is a spry athlete.
“I think they’re better when you look at all the stuff they’ve added,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I think they had a great summer.”
The Warriors were a unit in command of all their weapons against Los Angeles on Monday, shooting and passing the Clippers out of the arena.
“Great teams have that balance where every night, no matter what lineup is out there you know what your identity is and how you’re going to get a win,” Curry said.
This year’s version of the Warriors are still finding that identity, and Kerr knows the season will include letdowns like the team’s blown lead defeats to Houston and Detroit this month.
Kerr remembers playing for the two-time defending champion Chicago Bulls who began their 1997-98 campaign with a lackluster 8-7 mark.
“There’s a mental fatigue (after winning championships) more than anything. You feel it after a number of years,” Kerr said.
“I can tell this year is going to be a lot harder than that first year (in 2014).”
Editing by Steve Keating in Toronto