In 1989, the Los Angeles Lakers were looking to be the first team to win three straight NBA titles since the Celtics did it in the 1960s. After having the best record in Western Conference, and working their way to the NBA Finals, Los Angeles seemed poised to three-peat, but for that to happen, the Lakers needed to beat the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons, a team Los Angeles beat in a tight, seven-game series in the 1988 NBA Finals.
However, on their way to trying to win three straight NBA titles, the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers ran into some problems. Before Game 1 of the 1989 NBA Finals, Byron Scott injured his hamstring in practice, which forced him to miss the series. Also, in Game 2, the regular season MVP, Magic Johnson would injure his hamstring, which caused him to miss the rest of the series. Those injuries were a big reason why the Pistons swept the Lakers in the 1989 NBA Finals.
Thirty years later we could be seeing a similar script with the 2018-19 Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are trying to three-peat, and after losing Game 3 123-109, the Raptors lead the NBA Finals 2-1.
Golden State is without Kevin Durant, who has not played in the NBA FInals and has been ruled out of Game 4 after injuring his calf in Western Conference semifinals against Houston, and they were without Klay Thompson in Game 3. Good thing for the Warriors, Thompson is expected to return in Game 4. How healthy Thompson will be is uncertain. Kevon Looney, who has contributed off the Warriors’ bench, could miss the rest of the series with a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture. Also, star C DeMarcus Cousins recently returned from a quad injury, and while he was effective in Game 2, he was not very good in Game 3 and looked very sluggish.
The Warriors are breaking down right in front of our eyes.
Golden State has played a lot of basketball in the last five seasons. The Warriors have been to the NBA Finals five straight years. Before the 1989 Finals, the Lakers had played in three out the last four NBA Finals. 1989 made it four out of five NBA Finals appearances for Los Angeles.
While the Lakers were able to make it back to the NBA Finals in 1991(lost to Bulls in five), the Lakers’ Dynasty was pretty much done after 1989.
Could the Warriors suffer a similar fate? Durant and Thompson can become free agents in the summer. Thompson is probably going to return, but Durant’s return is still up in the air at this point.
Anything can happen, but as the Finals continue on, it is becoming evident that the 2019 Warriors could end up like the 1989 Lakers.