The higher they climb, the harder they fall.
After five straight trips to the NBA Finals during a span that included three championships, the Golden State Warriors became the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention during the 2019-20 season.
Golden State was officially eliminated Tuesday with a 131-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors' 2019-20 season was in peril before it even started. Kevin Durant chose to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson was sidelined by a torn ACL suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals, DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaun Livingston retired, and Andre Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
In a perfect world, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell, who the Warriors acquired during the last offseason, would have teamed up to keep the squad in playoff contention until Thompson returned, but Curry broke his hand in October and was sidelined until March.
Green and Russell also dealt with injuries, and the latter was eventually traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a package that included Andrew Wiggins.
The result has been a disjointed season filled with losses, opportunities for young players and no realistic chance at the playoffs.
Any remaining chances officially ended Tuesday, but the front office's attention has surely already turned toward the 2020-21 season. After all, a healthy Curry playing alongside a healthy Thompson, Green, Wiggins and whichever notable players the team adds during the offseason could be a recipe for success.
The roster may very well also include a game-changing youngster considering Golden State is projected to have a high lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
The 2019-20 season is an anomaly for a Warriors franchise that built itself into a modern-day dynasty. It won't be part of the upcoming playoffs, but it wouldn't be a surprise if it was right back there next season.