In this, the Warriors Era, brief as it has been at four seasons and counting, they have been everything the NBA could hope for in a marquee team.They’ve been entertaining, changing the game with their up-tempo style and 3-point shooting firepower.They’ve been lovable, led by Steph Curry, the first NBA superstar you could describe as “cuddly.”They’ve been great, posting win totals of 67-73-67 en route to three consecutive NBA Finals, of which they won two … and they would have won all of them if they hadn’t blown a 3-1 lead in 2016 after Draymond Green got himself suspended for Game 5. Unhappily, the matchup being in the conference finals leaves the real Finals looking like an anti-climax, raising the question of whether the league shouldn’t finally seed the playoffs regardless of conference.Departure from tradition that it would be, it would solve the age-old problem of anti-climactic East-West imbalance … which once tilted Eastward but not lately … while ensuring that any team deserving of a Finals berth has the chance to prove it.The over/under for this year’s Finals looks like five games, even if they’re weeks away and we won’t know which of the remaining four teams will be there. Whether it’s the young Celtics without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward or the Cavaliers with little more than LeBron, winning more than one game against the Warriors or Rockets looks like an upset.If the trick for the Warriors is reaching the Finals, not winning them, it comes after a long season with Kerr braced for trouble after three long postseasons.After beating second-place San Antonio by margins of 11-6-6 in the West, the Warriors saw Houston blow past them – and pulled up in the stretch, going 44-14 before the All-Star break, 14-10 after it. Kerr had to use 27 starting lineups, compared to 24 combined the previous three seasons, even with personnel changes like KD’s 2016 arrival. Curry left with a knee injury in early March and wasn’t back until the second round of the playoffs.Even with Kerr intent on biding his time, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick cites a dispirited one-sided loss to Indiana in April when the boyish coach bristled at their “pathetic” performance, noting it’s hard to win “if you don’t put forth any effort at all.”And now, the Rockets.The Warriors won Game 1 in Houston as Durant scored 37 points and the press ganged up on the Rockets for playing so much isolation.The Rockets won Game 2 by 22 as the press ganged up on Curry, who suddenly wasn’t getting good looks, going 2 for 13 from 3-point range in the first two games.Kerr, asked what percentage of Steph’s problem is his knee, joked, “13.7 percent” – perhaps just to show that things weren’t so dire he’d lost his sense of humor.Unfortunately for the Warriors, their wondrous pre-KD ball movement, which saw Draymond average 9.5 assists during the 2015-16 season, has devolved to throwing Durant the ball and making the occasional cut.Durant isn’t really a 7-footer as Houston Coach Mike D’Antoni keeps calling him. He was 6-9 in stocking feet at the 2007 pre-draft camp but with his length, high release and huge advantage over P.J. Tucker or whoever from D’Antoni’s small-ball lineup is assigned to defend him, KD looks like a 3-point shooting Wilt Chamberlain.It remains to be seen if the Warriors are as great with KD as they were before him. On one hand, he’s a No. 1 option who can always get a shot and get to the line in the clutch. On the other, their ball movement, which surpassed that of the Spurs as the best the game has ever seen, isn’t the same.For better or worse, they’re now dependent on KD. Green all but made it official, trademarking a new name for their starters – “the Hampton 5” – who met on Long Island recruiting Durant in 2016 (Curry, Green, KD, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson).That’s not quite the Basketball of Tomorrow the Warriors have been emblematic of … as proclaimed by Lacob in a 2016 New York Times profile (“We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things”) … after six seasons as owner.Typically, Lacob again soared, metaphorically, ahead of his team this season, allowing himself to look past their fortunate present with KD, Steph, et al., to an uncertain future.“We’ll build around the core until we decide maybe we shouldn’t,” Lacob told Bay Area New Group’s Mark Medina, “but right now it feels pretty good.”Full-of-themselves Chicago officials talked that way in the Bulls’ 1990s heyday, signaling their players were replaceable – hastening the departure of key pieces like Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen and perhaps even Michael Jordan. Never underestimate the tendency of people hearing their futures discussed over their heads to take it poorly.Great as both West finalists are, only one can sit atop the pyramid. If it’s not the Warriors, the press will really start in on them. Then we’ll see who Lacob is ahead of and by how many light-years. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThey’ve been big box office with the three highest Finals TV ratings in the last 13 years for an Oakland-Cleveland ugly-duckling matchup against LeBron James and his supporting cast.The Warriors are building San Francisco glamor into their future with their self-funded $1 billion arena in the city, which will open in 2019.They made themselves financial giants with Forbes valuing the franchise at $3.1 billion, just behind the Lakers’ $3.3 billion, and ticket prices in the new arena set to jump 33 percent – along with a $35,000 “membership fee” for the honor of paying for the premium seats, which is refundable and serves as a mammoth interest-free loan.They’ve also been insufferable despite the presence of all-world good guys Curry, Kevin Durant and Coach Steve Kerr with owner Joe Lacob periodically trumpeting their greatness – or, actually, his greatness – as if reminding everyone who’s Numero Uno.Happily for the NBA, the Warriors now have a real test of their greatness, tied 1-1 with Houston going into Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday, after having finished seven games behind the Rockets during the regular season.