Western Conference Finals, Game 7: Warriors 101, Rockets 92

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 29th, 2018 by bill

westconf2018

At some point during the first half last night — another oddly somnambulant performance by the Warriors in a literal must-win — every Dubs fan was girding for the nightmare scenario where our team lost. I mean, not even making it to the Finals — can you imagine?

Yes, we are spoiled. But then again who, outside of the 7th and 19th biggest markets in the USA, wanted to see a series between two one-man teams led unlikable superstars? (By which I mean LeBron James — of whom more later — and James Harden, who with Chris Paul sidelined is back to being the Houston Rockets’ sole marquee player.) And yet that seemed a strong possibility as the Warriors committed four fouls in the first three minutes of the game — including three by Klay Thompson — and went down by as much as 15 before limping into halftime trailing by a relatively modest 11.

We were watching at our friends Gary and Genia’s house in Trinidad, where it was a spectacularly beautiful day. We spent the halftime break staring out at Moonstone Beach, trying to convince ourselves that everything was going to be fine. And there was every reason to think it would be — the W’s had been in exactly this situation two days previously, and outscored the Rockets 64–25 in a magical second half.

But that’s the thing about magic: It’s unpredictable. You can’t just summon it at will.

Or can you? Read more »

Western Conference Finals, Game 6: Warriors 115, Rockets 86

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 27th, 2018 by bill
Klay was fired up.

Klay was fired up.

And so was Steph. And so was I.

And so was Steph. And so was I.

Last night was possibly the hardest I’ve ever worked as a basketball fan. I spent most of the game standing about two feet from the screen, often in a defensive crouch if the Rockets had the ball. This was good for my calves but maybe not for my heart, which has suffered a lot of sports-related stress over the last week.

Despite all my efforts the first quarter went horribly wrong, with the Warriors misfiring left and right, committing turnover after turnover, while everything the Rockets threw up seemed to find the bottom of the net. After one quarter Houston led 39–22 and all over the Dub Nation the faithful were contemplating methods of self-harm.

The W’s found their footing a little in the 2nd and managed to go to halftime down only 10. This was considerably better than the worst-case scenario that had seemed about to unfold, but hardly reassuring. I spent the whole halftime break pacing back and forth between the living room and the office, firing off alternately despairing and hopeful text messages to my fellow fans.

Then the second half started, and all of a sudden it was like someone had taken the kryptonite away. The Warriors scored 11 straight points — including two Klay Thompson threes, one by Steph Curry, and a nasty Kevin Durant dunk — and never looked back. They led by 7 at the end of the quarter, and never once in the 4th did Houston look capable of getting back in the game. Read more »

A few more thoughts on Game 5

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 26th, 2018 by bill

The other day I was too stunned and hung over to form any coherent thoughts about the disaster that was Game 5. And I kind of still don’t want to talk about it. The Warriors played poorly and deserved to lose…what else is there to say?

But even in the midst of defeat they caught a huge break when Chris Paul strained his hamstring in the last minute of the game. He will sit out tonight’s game in Oakland, and while I would have preferred that the W’s beat the Rockets at full strength, at the moment any help is welcome. Andre Iguodala will miss his third game in a row, and apparently he is a keyer cog in the machine than we knew, because the Dubs have not looked like the same team without him.

But, blah blah blah…honestly I’m tired of hearing about it and thinking about it. Let’s play the damn game already and see what happens. 15 minutes to go.

Song of the Week, 5/26/2018

Posted in Song of the week on May 26th, 2018 by bill

This week’s song is actually two — the first two songs on Bad Company’s 1979 album Desolation Angels. These are guilty pleasures to be sure, weighted down with a heavy load of the hoariest rock’n’roll cliches. But I feel happy every time I hear them, so fuck that noise. Rock’n’roll!

Western Conference Finals, Game 5: Rockets 98, Warriors 94

Posted in Whatever Else on May 25th, 2018 by bill

Game 5.image

Wait, what?

Western Conference Finals, Game 4: Rockets 95, Warriors 92

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 23rd, 2018 by bill

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It is my unpleasant and self-appointed duty to fill this space with words about last night’s basketball game, which had a brilliant start — a 12–0 Warriors run, after which I was sending giddy texts to everyone in my address book — and then, as the Old Man says, “little by little it started going to shit.” The wife and I sat on our barstools at the recently reopened Tomo Sushi in Arcata, sadly eating delicious food as what seemed like a sure thing went slowly sideways.

I wish there was some excuse, some quirk, some extenuating circumstance that I could cite. And yes, the W’s were missing key cog Andre Iguodala, who sat out with a leg contusion. But that shouldn’t have mattered; the Warriors simply let a game that they had in their grasp slip away. The Rockets just appeared to want it more, and that does matter, even at this rarefied level of competition.

On the other hand, isn’t this what I keep asking for? Some challenge, some competition, some adversity for my team to overcome on their way to glory? So here you go, bright boy — on Thursday the Dubs will play a road game that they really need to win, no kidding around. Happy now?

 

He’s Your Back Door Man

Posted in Whatever Else on May 22nd, 2018 by bill

So this morning I was reading a Serious News story on the New York Times about the uneasy alliance between Israel’s Netanyahu government and evangelical Christians, who don’t really like each other but find it convenient to work together in pursuit of their respective goals. But shallow person that I am, it was the following paragraph that really caught my attention:

“You have this evangelical who ends his prayer knowing full well that it’s inappropriate, that the Jews there are going to be upset that he did that, and not able to answer ‘amen’ to his prayer,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Such an explicitly Christian prayer, he warned, revived old fears of many Jews that evangelical support for Israel is “a way to sweeten us up and get us soft to get Jesus through the back door.”

Western Conference Finals, Game 3: Warriors 126, Rockets 85

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 21st, 2018 by bill

the-return-of-the-warriors-we-know-steph-and-defense

After two days of camping it was a little disorienting to find myself in a loud, colorful sports bar in Sacramento yesterday, waiting for Game 3 to start. Confusingly too, despite the presence of about 23 big screens, it took a while for us to get TNT on one of them; and when we did, Shaquille O’Neal was talking about gun control, then Charles Barkley said some things about mental health. The general feeling was of a slightly, though not disagreeably, skewed parallel universe.

When the game finally got underway the Warriors had the same starting lineup they’ve been using (what they now call the “Hamptons 5”: Curry, Thompson, Durant, Iguodala, Green), but a new defensive scheme designed to keep Steph from being picked on defensively. It did not go well at first. With Curry scrambling to get back to his own man rather than switch, the Rockets found the open man and got a few easy baskets.

In the first minutes of the game the Rockets built what seemed like a substantial lead. A look back at the play-by-play shows that in fact their biggest lead was 4, at 8–4. At that point the W’s took a timeout, immediately after which Steph Curry hit his first 3 of the game.

Over the annoyingly long interval between Games 2 and 3 there had been a lot of loose talk — even from yours truly — about “what’s wrong with Steph.” The truth was that his floor game had been solid, but his long-range shooting had not been what we expect it to be. And after making that one triple, he continued to struggle throughout the first half, even as the W’s slowly built a solid 11-point lead. Read more »

Western Conference Finals, Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 17th, 2018 by bill
Yeah, it's like that sometimes.

Yeah, it’s like that sometimes.

Throughout this year’s playoffs, the Warriors have made a habit of gifting every team with one victory at home, just to reward the local fans for all they’ve done. This meant writing off Game 4 in San Antonio and Game 3 in New Orleans; but in the case of the Houston Rockets, who had home-court advantage, it was necessary to surrender Game 2 — otherwise there would be no more games in Houston.

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself today, the morning after my beloved basketball team phoned in a sadly lackluster performance. The numbers tell the story; even Kevin Durant, who scored 38 points, was –28 for the night. Klay Thompson was largely absent, and something is definitely wrong with Steph Curry, who is 2-for-13 on threes over the last two games (though his overall field-goal percentage, assist, and rebound numbers are pretty good).

But all that will be forgotten if the Good Warriors show up at Oracle Arena on Sunday, when Game 3 will tip off shortly after 5 P.M. Unfortunately that is three days from now, giving the Dub Nation 70-something hours to stew in its juices. Perhaps we will grow as people during that time. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Western Conference Finals, Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 15th, 2018 by bill
James Harden's idea of defense is trying to blow Kevin Durant over.

James Harden’s idea of defense is trying to blow Kevin Durant over.

I was a little antsy as I sat on my couch last night with a gray cat in my lap, waiting for Game 1 to tip off already after four long days of no basketball. My Warriors were set to face the Houston Rockets, owner of the league’s best record at 65–17, and one and a half–point favorites according to the oddsmakers.

The first couple minutes did not go well. A defensive lapse left James Harden all alone for a three, which he buried. Big Clint Capela rejected Kevin Durant’s first shot attempt with authority, then slammed home an alley-cop dunk on the other end. Draymond Green got a technical 1:07 into the game for shoving Harden under the basket, and was lucky he did not get booted summarily from the game. Andre Iguodala picked up two quick fouls and headed to the bench.

But despite all that the Warriors never trailed by more than 9, and had closed it to one at the end of the 1st quarter. The game was tied at 56 at halftime.  Read more »