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NBA: Warriors are team to beat

Kevin Durant,Stephen Curry

Superteam has 4 All-Star starters.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – What happens when you combine the heart of a team that won an NBA record 73 games last season with superstar forward Kevin Durant? You just might call it Superteam.

That’s the status the Golden State Warriors have created for themselves after the off-season signing of former Oklahoma City star Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion, to a two-year deal worth $54.3 million.

‘‘It’s new and fresh. I’m looking forward to it,’’ Durant said of joining the Warriors. ‘‘I’m super excited.’’

After the Warriors lost last year’s NBA Finals to Cleveland in seven games, they toughened their lineup by adding the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player to a roster featuring 2015 and 2016 MVP Stephen Curry and 3-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson in the backcourt plus standouts Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala up front.

‘‘The stakes will be a lot higher this year than they were last year just because of adding Kevin,’’ Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said.

The Warriors set an NBA record by going 73-9 in the regular season and grabbed a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series only to be foiled when LeBron James sparked the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.

‘‘I don’t want to walk in the door thinking about game seven,’’ Curry said. ‘‘But you should remember how you felt walking off the floor. You should remember all you did all summer to get yourself in a better position individually and collectively.’’

NBA general managers said in a poll they expect Golden State to face the Cavaliers in the finals for a third consecutuive season next June, what would be the decider in a heavyweight trilogy.

‘‘There’s no more pressure on us than there was last year,’’ Curry said of bouncing back from the upset to defending a crown.

The Warriors dumped a fistful of reserves and traded Australian center Andrew Bogut to Dallas to make salary room for Durant, who reached the Western Conference final four times in six years but has yet to win a title.

‘‘We just try to get better,’’ Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. ‘‘You never expect to get this much better.’’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has four All-Star starters and has watched Durant score 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game in the pre-season with Curry averaging 17.2 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

‘‘You can’t do any better than adding KD to the current crew,’’ Kerr said. ‘‘To play with them and play our style, I think that was attractive to him. It does feel like it should be a perfect fit. It’s going to be a lot of fun once we get rolling.’’

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