SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers prepare for their showdown in the NBA Finals, there are remarkable similarities between this Golden State team and the one which won its only NBA title 40 years ago, according to Warriors Hall of Famer Rick Barry.
The MVP of the 1975 NBA Finals joined the KCBS News morning crew Tuesday during its Daily Madden segment and predicted the Warriors will win the series in five or six games if they play the way they are capable of playing.
“They’re a better basketball team than the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now saying it is one thing, but they have to go out there and do it.”
Barry said the Warriors have been successful the last few years by landing talented players in three different ways: the draft, trades and free agency.
“If you don’t pick the right players, John (Madden) will tell you that, I mean John was a great coach but he would never have been any good if he didn’t have good players,” said Barry. “You can’t win without good players and the Warriors have done a great job in their choices.”
Barry said similar to his Warriors team, the current mix of veterans and young players, along with a deep bench, was the formula that has led Golden State to the brink of another title. “The comparison between the two teams is pretty remarkable,” he said.
The scoring combination of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is comparable to what Barry and Jamaal Wilkes produced in the 1974-75 season, he said.
The Warriors are known for their depth and routinely play all eleven players for ten or more minutes, something Barry said most teams just don’t do.
Barry also noted former All-Stars Andre Iguodala and David Lee accepting and excelling in secondary roles, just as the Warriors of 40 years ago had the luxury of former All-Stars Jeff Mullins and Bill Bridges playing off the bench.
“Both of those guys were willing to accept subservient roles and be coming off the bench to help us to achieve our goal of winning a championship,” said Barry.
On another note, Barry said the amount of physical play the NBA allows in the playoffs is “appalling.” He said the key to winning is great players overcoming the physicality that increases as the playoffs grind on.
“If you really watch the game closely and see what’s happening off the ball and guys grabbing, guys hitting, guys banging … it doesn’t take skill and talent and ability to do that,” said Barry. “So what they’ve done by allowing that to happen is they given an advantage to the less-skilled players.
“And I can say from first-hand experience, I can assure you, that great players have to elevate their game in the playoffs. You’re not going to be as effective if you are not prepared to accept the extra physical aspect of the game.”