The Golden State Warriors are still undefeated in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, and they are closer to winning their second championship in three years. The Warriors are up 3-0 on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the sweep is expected to happen in Game 4 on Friday, June 9. Many people are already calling the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors are the greatest team of all time but are they right?
The 2017 Warriors ended the regular season with a record of 67-15, which is tied for seventh with six other teams for the best record in NBA history. Of course, last year’s Warriors had the greatest regular season in history after going 73-9, but they also blew a 3-1 lead against the Cavaliers, which makes their accomplishment a lot less important because they did not win a title.
However, the addition of Kevin Durant has propelled the Warriors this season. Durant is playing out of his mind in the 2017 NBA Finals to help the Warriors gain a 3-0 lead over Cleveland. Stephen Curry is also playing great while Klay Thompson finally found his stroke in Games 1 and 2. The rest of the Warriors are playing their roles perfectly and are expected to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Friday.
The debate is on if the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors are the greatest team in history. If they win on Friday, they are going to be the first team in NBA history to finish the playoffs with a record of 16-0. Several NBA legends like Magic Johnson and Julius Erving have claimed that their teams could have defeated this year’s Warriors. Here are the five legendary NBA teams that could potentially beat the 2016-17 Warriors.
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson said at a recent event, according to ESPN, that the “Showtime” Lakers could have swept the Warriors. Ex-Lakers head coach Pat Riley added that Golden State would not have any chance of stopping Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his deadly skyhook. The 1987 Lakers are the best of that “Showtime” Era, and they ended up winning the NBA title against the Boston Celtics.
That Lakers team had Hall of Fame players like Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, who could cancel out Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant of the Warriors. Add the fact that the 1987 Lakers had great role players such as Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, A.C. Green, Kurt Rambis, and Klay’s father, Mychal.
2012-13 Miami Heat
LeBron James has already beaten the 73-win Golden State Warriors, but the current Cavaliers or last year’s roster might not have the firepower to beat the Durant-led Warriors. James needs to go back four seasons atop his powers while he was a member of the Miami Heat. The 2013 Heat arguably is the best team James has ever assembled.
James would team up with a prime Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with role players such as Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Shane Battier. The 2013 Heat can play the small ball effectively, and they have a sure shot of beating the 2017 Warriors. Prime Wade is better than the present Kyrie Irving, and prime Bosh is better defensively than Kevin Love.
The Heat needed a Ray Allen miracle to force Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs, but the talent for that Miami team is great. They will surely pose a great threat to the Warriors and could give them a run for their money.
1985-86 Boston Celtics
Many old-school NBA fans believe that the 1986 Celtics are the greatest team of all time, with top players such as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. Bird’s passing and shooting pose a threat while McHale and Parish are going to eat the Warriors alive inside. The Celtics’ role players consisting of Bill Walton, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge would also give the Warriors a big challenge.
Of course, the Warriors can run and gun the Celtics, but the legendary team can slow down the pace, something the Cavaliers need to do in Game 4. However, it’s difficult to see the Celtics keep up with the Warriors, but they can get a game or two over the current Golden State team.
2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers
The 2001 Lakers had the greatest postseason run in NBA history after going 15-1 en route to their second straight championship of that decade. The Lakers had a young Kobe Bryant and a prime Shaquille O’Neal steamrolling teams in the West after a subpar regular season. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated noted that the 2001 Lakers were unstoppable, and they could have a real shot at beating these Warriors.
Of course, Kobe and Shaq were unstoppable—with those two guys, you were almost always able to get a good shot late in the clock, could stagger their minutes, and yeah, they’re both Hall of Famers.”
Some of the role players of that Lakers team include Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Ron Harper, Robert Horry, Tyronn Lue, and Horace Grant. The 2001 Lakers team are deeper than the Warriors, but they will surely have a hard time stopping Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.
1995-96 Chicago Bulls
The 1996 Chicago Bulls were a 72-win team in the regular season, and they went 15-3 in the playoffs. The Bulls were led by the greatest of all time in Michael Jordan with Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman by his side. Out of the five teams mentioned, Jordan’s Bulls have the best chance of beating the Warriors.
Chris Broussard of FOX Sports noted that the Bulls would surely lose a shootout, but Jordan and company possess the intangibles like mental toughness. The Bulls can also go small ball with Toni Kukoc, and they could play very well against the Warriors’ death lineup.
However, it should be noted that there is no way of telling if the 2017 Golden State Warriors are the greatest team of all time. Other factors such as what rules are in play are vital in finding out if these legendary teams have a shot at beating the Warriors or any other team this decade. It’s a non-stop debate that could go on forever.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]