The relative nature of success permeates each franchise differently. The Atlanta Hawks haven't made the NBA Finals or Eastern Conference Finals in the past five years, but that is no reason to hang their heads.
It all depends on the relativity of expectations and talent, and the Golden State Warriors have far exceeded them all.
Would it be nice if they won a best-of-seven (a series in which they trail 1-0) against the Denver Nuggets? Sure. But even if they had lost with David Lee healthy, it wouldn't be considered a failure.
Expectations change throughout the course of an NBA season, and the Warriors were at one point seeded fourth and fighting for home-court advantage. Then the Nuggets broke out and the Warriors stalled.
From then on, the Warriors clung onto the sixth seed and their first postseason appearance since 2007.
That being said, there are three things that fans and Warriors management would surely like to see to tab this as a successful series. Let's face it: The Warriors are unlikely to win the series, so management and especially fans will have to revel in the positive steps forward the Warriors can make, not the ones they won't.
The first part is Andrew Bogut sustaining the impact he made in Game 1. He played more than 30 minutes and made plays on the defensive end (as usual) and also the offensive end.
Bogut rolled to the bucket with success as he was able to finish his lefty hook shots and rolling righty floaters. Is he 100 percent? That's extremely unlikely, but it'd be promising if he provided a court presence all series, especially in the altitude.
With Lee out, we are looking to Carl Landry, Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack to pick up the slack, but Bogut's passing makes him dangerous as well.
As for the defense, he was able to mask many of the breakdowns, as he often does, and deter incessant slashing players like Andre Iguodala, Evan Fournier and Ty Lawson.
The second aspect coincides with what has been successful all year: Curry's shooting. What belies the point is how he gets the ball and where he gets it. The Nuggets chased him around every screen with the lanky Corey Brewer and doubled him right away off the pick-and-pops.
Now that Curry is missing the passing of Lee on the kickback, it'll be even tougher for him to get his shots. But like all great players, he must find a way to get open.
Assuming Jack plays the brunt of Lee's minutes, as unconventional as it may be, Curry might have to dribble-drive his way into the paint, not wait on the outside.
This plays into the future because of Jack's imminent departure as a free agent. Without his ball-handling, Curry will spend less time running off double-screens and more time creating for others. He has the ability to do so; it's how he does it against a swarming defense that constitutes how great he can be.
The last piece to a successful Warriors postseason is the linear growth of both Klay Thompson and Barnes.
On several occasions, Thompson was able to bring the ball up and initiate the offense from the wings and find Bogut and Landry open.
Barnes, on the other hand, vanished on offense as he is wont to do, and the Nuggets played off of him to shield toward Curry's drives.
Passiveness is quickly becoming synonymous with Barnes' game, and it would not only help the Warriors in the series but also give them a glimpse into the future if he can assert himself on a consistent basis.
While everyone will remember this as the year when Stephen Curry became a superstar, postseason success doesn't necessarily translate itself to wins. The growth of players is far more important for a team on the rise.
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