Warriors Kevin Durant OAKLAND, CA – OCTOBER 25: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter in an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on October 25, 2016 Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Warriors had won eight games in a row without Kevin Durant, but they appeared doomed in the first half against the Spurs on Wednesday. The Warriors trailed by 22 points early in the second quarter but rallied back to win 110-98 on the road. That’s plenty of room to spare.

During the eight-game winning streak, the big question was if the Warriors could compete with the best of the best without Durant even though they had taken care of inferior teams. Well, now we have the answer, and it’s a resounding yes.

Everyone was quick to write off the Warriors after their abysmal start Wednesday night.

Not only did they recover, but they did so quickly enough to tie the game up at 45 a few minutes before halftime. Golden State proceeded to completely control the second half.

Now the Warriors are completely in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed, which would greatly increase their chances of winning the West. As the top seed, they would have to go through only one of San Antonio or Houston rather than both.

The Spurs would still hold a tiebreaker should they tie. But the Warriors now have a 3.5-game lead, and that should be enough with just seven games remaining.

What makes Wednesday’s win even more convincing is it came on the back end of a simply unfair situation: a road back-to-back against the two best teams in the NBA after the Warriors. The stretch doesn’t get much easier as Golden State hosts Houston again on Friday, but at least now, Steve Kerr’s squad gets a day of rest.


Even if the Warriors come out of this three-game stretch at 2-1, that’s saying a lot about what this team can accomplish in the playoffs even if Durant’s injury lingers. Naturally, Golden State struggled in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s absence. It didn’t help that the injury occurred in the middle of a big road trip, either.

Now that there’s been an adjustment period, guys other than Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are starting to step up. While Curry was terrific with 29 points and 11 assists and Thompson added 23 against the Spurs, David West was in some ways the game’s MVP. He had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds, and 11 of his points came in the fourth quarter.

So Durant will probably be back for the playoffs. He could even be back for the end of the regular season. But even if he somehow doesn’t return or plays at less than 100 percent, the Warriors made a statement Wednesday. They’ve found their groove, and they’re the team to beat even without their “Super Team” status.

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.

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