We wanted to take a little time to point out a special team in this edition of "History Lessons." Now, this team didn't win the NBA Championship. They didn't even make it to the finals. But they will go down in history as one of the more exciting teams to ever watch in the NBA Playoffs.
The 2006-07 Golden State Warriors weren't supposed to make a bunch of noise in the NBA Playoffs. In fact, most were looking at the Warriors to be an early exit in the playoffs. The Dubs went into the playoffs with a 42-40 record, which would position them as the 8th and final seed in the Western Conference. Their first-round opponent? The Dallas Mavericks, who went 67-15 that season. The Mavericks, at that time, were coached by Avery Johnson and featured a team consisting of Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Jerry Stackhouse.
Let's rewind it a bit, so we can go forward in this process. This Warriors team caught fire in the second half of the season, notably after a January trade with the Indiana Pacers, which would send Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to the Warriors. It was a big swing for Golden State's Front Office, as Jackson's reputation had grown sour due to the "Malace at the Palace." As the regular season came to a near, it seemed only inevitable that the Warriors were going to have an uphill climb in the first round. The Warriors and their fanbase then adapted the "We Believe" slogan heading into the Playoffs. After that, it seemed as if Oracle Arena had become a powder keg of passionate fans, who were all-in on doing anything in their power to help out their underdog team.
This Warriors team, led by Head Coach Don Nelson, was an absolute wildcard in all aspects. They were a team that was built to succeed in today's modern NBA. Some might even argue that the Warriors were ahead of their time. The team featured a number of exciting guards and wings, such as Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, and Matt Barnes. The Warriors had a number of key role-players as well. Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins were crucial contributors when it came to this Warriors playoff run.
The Warriors were rolling at full speed when their line-up featured what some might call today a modernized "small-ball." Back then, this rotation simply was known as "Nellie Ball." The lineup would feature Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington, with Monta Ellis coming off of the bench as a microwave option. Don Nelson would also run that core lineup out at times with Biedrins manning the middle. The goal with this "We Believe" team was simple. They were going to run and it was bombs away from deep.
Nelson mentioned that the moves to acquire Jackson and Harrington were crucial for the Warriors' success as an underdog. They now had the ability to play 5 players that were around 6'6", allowing for line-ups that could entirely switch against opponents. While the defensive ratings left much to be desired, the Warriors thrived on the offensive side of the ball.
The rest is history. A first-round upset against the #1 seed featuring league MVP Dirk Nowitzki. The Warriors would fall in the Conference Semi-Finals against the Utah Jazz, but they will always go down in history as one of the most exciting underdogs.