Durant & Green's competitive fire has Warriors on brink of history

The fire Kevin Durant and Draymond Green share looked as if it may tear the Warriors apart, now it has them on the brink of history.

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green   -  Getty Images

Those desperate for the end of the Golden State Warriors' dominance of the NBA were given perhaps their biggest kernel of hope back in November, as the bond between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green appeared on the verge of breaking.

The frontcourt pairing, each so crucial to the stretch of superiority that has led to the Warriors being thought of as the best basketball team of all time in many circles, were involved in a heated on-court spat over the final play of regulation in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

READ: Warriors' Durant out of NBA Finals opener, Cousins doubtful

Durant was frustrated with Green for not passing him the ball in transition, and their exchange continued in the locker room after the Clippers completed a 121-116 victory.

Green was suspended by the team for one game for his actions and, with Durant having appeared to mouth "that's why I'm out" – a reference to his impending free agency – it was fair to wonder at that point whether their dispute would prove the end of the Warriors' dynasty.

However, any hope of the Warriors falling apart has been emphatically put to bed. Golden State, by their high standards, meandered through the regular season, but in the playoffs the competitive fire that fuelled Durant and Green's dispute has been pivotal to their run to another NBA Finals, which they will begin with Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.

Durant may still be on the sideline due to a calf strain suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals series with the Houston Rockets, but prior to that setback he was in his two-time Finals MVP form.

In 11 playoff games this season, Durant has averaged 34.2 points, shot 51.3 per cent from the field and 41.6 per cent from three-point range, producing two 40-point games and a 50-point game that closed out a tricky six-game first-round series with the Clippers.

His injury, suffered in a series with a team regarded as the closest challenger, was seen as another possible harbinger of Warriors' doom. Despite leading the series 3-2 and having reached two Finals and won a title without Durant, few expected the Warriors to finish the job against Houston.

Green helped make sure they did. He may have only scored eight points in a game in which the bench contributed heavily, but he led the team in both rebounds (10) and assists (7) as his energy and desire helped will the Warriors into the next round.

That same energy was one of the defining factors of the Warriors' Conference Finals sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, in which Green was phenomenal. He had double-doubles in the first two games and triple-doubles in the pair of road victories that wrapped up the series, as his tireless efforts to push the pace and attack the rim – which was what angered Durant back in November – continually confounded the Trail Blazers.

So impressive have the Warriors been without Durant that they are the heavy favourites to complete a three-peat of NBA titles even with his status still up in the air.

Should Durant return, he will unquestionably do so with the determination to reiterate his worth to the Warriors but, if he remains restricted to a watching brief, Green is – with significant help from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – more than capable of channelling his incredible will to win into more dominant performances to lead Golden State to a feat only two other teams have achieved in the modern era. 

The fire both Durant and Green possess looked poised to tear the Warriors apart, now it has them standing on the brink of history.

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