Round 4, Game 6: Warriors 105, Cavaliers 97

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 17th, 2015 by bill

And there was much rejoicing.

The last time my favorite sports team won the championship was 1980, when the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. I turned 13 on the day of Game 2 of the Series, so this week marked the first time in my life I’ve gotten to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate a title. It was delicious. Also strange. Let me explain.

When we arrived at Heathrow it was Tuesday morning, and my only priorities for the day were to get some sleep and to find a way to watch Game 6, which was scheduled to tip off around 2 a.m. The first was easy to accomplish, the second not so much. Searching the guide on the cable system in the flat we’re renting turned up a broadcast of the game; so far so good. But it was a subscription channel that would have to be activated, and getting that done turned out to be an ordeal.

In the meantime, I thought that London being a cosmopolitan metropolis, there might be someplace that Americans gathered to watch basketball in the wee hours of the morning; but if such a thing exists, I could find no evidence of it. The kind gentlemen who’s renting us this place tried diligently to get the necessary channel activated, but in late afternoon informed me that it could not be done. I had just woken up and was almost ready to accept this answer; I had discovered that we could at least stream the game on the iPad, which would have been OK.

But then I rallied and got on the horn to the channel in question, and finally got a phone number that expedited the solution of the problem. That sorted out, we adjourned to dinner at an Indian place called Bengal, which was fantastic. Afterward there was time to kill; we had a little walk in the park, did a crossword puzzle. There was soccer on the tube, then a lame episode of NBA Today, then the pregame blather. At last it was gametime.
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Round 4, Game 5: Warriors 104, Cavaliers 91

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 16th, 2015 by bill

Life sure is funny. Here it is 2015, and I find myself on an airplane en route to London via Toronto, iPad in lap to jot down a few words about the fact that the Warriors just won Game 5 of the NBA Finals to go up 3 games to 2.

Crazy.

History is written by the winners, they say. And all the articles today were about how great the W’s played, how Steph Curry torched the Cavs for 17 points in the 4th quarter, and how Draymond Green roared back to life with a huge game at this crucial juncture. And all these things are true, thank goodness. But what always gets forgotten in these situations is how touch-and-go it all was.

Everything seemed to be up in the air as we crawled through miserably slow traffic in Petaluma, still two hours away from our destination with an hour till gametime. Things had not been going exactly according to plan, and for a moment I considered bolting from the vehicle and making my way to the nearest sports bar on foot. But that would have created some substantial difficulties in my personal life, so I stayed the course.
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Round 4, Game 4: Warriors 103, Cavaliers 82

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 12th, 2015 by bill

Andre Iguodala apparently doesn't like the nickname 'Iggy,' so in recognition of his heroic Game 4 performance, I hereby swear never to call him that again.

Now the truth can be told: I was a little worried. Despite my complete confidence in Steve Kerr and the other people who get paid by Joe Lacob to think about basketball full-time, my stomach was churning as I sat in my barstool at Sidelines waiting for the game to start. And I don’t think it was just the sketchy Mexican food I had for dinner.

This pressure-cooker of the NBA Finals is really intense. And all I have to do is drink whiskey and occasionally shout something encouraging at the TV screen. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a person who actually has to play in these games.
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Round 4, Game 3: Cavaliers 96, Warriors 91

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 10th, 2015 by bill

I'm pretty sure this shot went in.

If history is any indication, the Warriors will be just fine. They were in this same position exactly one month ago: down 2-1 to an opponent who was playing stifling defense, facing a must-win Game 4 on the road, vultures and jackals of the press circling. They won the next three games to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies, and all was right with the world.

That doesn’t make this a fun day to be a Dubs fan. We are all some combination of pissed off, bummed out, torn up, and hung over. Our boys were humbled last night by an undermanned Cleveland team that is playing with psychotic intensity, slowing things to a brutal grind and leaving no trace of the beautiful basketball team we’ve seen all season long. It kind of reminds me of the Vogons:

Billions of years ago, when the Vogons first crawled out of the primeval seas of Vogsphere, lay panting and heaving on the planet’s virgin shores… when the first rays of the young Vogsol sun had shone across them… it seemed as if the forces of evolution had simply given up on them then and there, turned aside in disgust and written them off as an ugly mistake. They would never evolve again. They shouldn’t have survived. The fact that they did is a testament to the thick-willed stubbornness of these creatures. Evolution? they said to themselves. Who needs it? What nature refused to do for them they simply did without until they were able to correct the gross anatomical inconveniences with surgery.
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Draymond Green with an afro

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 9th, 2015 by bill

How can this fail to make you happy?

He looks bit like ?uestlove, no?

Round 4, Game 2: Cavaliers 95, Warriors 93

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 8th, 2015 by bill

With seven seconds left in overtime last night, reigning MVP and consensus Quite-Possibly-the-Best-Shooter-Ever Stephen Curry took a hard dribble from the left side, stepped back, lofted a rainbow jumper from 19 feet, and…airballed it.

What?

It was just that kind of night for Steph, who finished 5-23 from the field, 2-15 from 3. Two for fifteen. That’s 13%, which is, like, really bad, you know?

LeBron James, on the other hand, was a steamroller. He ended up with 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists. And he was even better than the numbers indicate. He more or less, as I was afraid he might, willed the Cavaliers to victory against a superior team.

And the Warriors are the superior team, make no mistake about that. Even with Steph having his worst game in recent memory, the home team hung in there all the way, coming back from 11 points down with 3:14 left to force overtime.
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Round 4, Game 1: Warriors 108, Cavaliers 100

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 5th, 2015 by bill

Andre Iguodala puts his shoe back on after drilling a three.

Last night’s game was like a great action movie: It was exciting, it was suspenseful, and it had a happy ending.

After a long week of blather and hype, the teams finally started playing basketball at around 6:12 PM. Or at least the Cavs did. The Warriors took a while to get their machine in gear; maybe they were rusty, maybe they were nervous about being on the big stage for the first time, or maybe it was just another of the slow starts that have been their only weakness this season. They spotted Cleveland 10 points before finally waking up in the 2nd quarter.

And they never really did get it going completely, never became the overwhelming tsunami that they’re capable of being. They had to scratch and scrape for everything, partly because the Cavs were playing smart, disciplined defense. LeBron James, meanwhile, was being the Platonic ideal of LeBron James.
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Advantage: Warriors

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 3rd, 2015 by bill

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We all know that the Warriors have a tremendous home-court advantage. By my count they are 46-3 at Oracle Arena this year, and the average margin of victory is somewhere around 10 points. But now Hollywood has pitched in to take it to another level.

In his downtime before the NBA Finals start tomorrow, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (he of the towering column of hair) went to see the new movie San Andreas, where San Francisco is destroyed by a giant earthquake, then drowned by a massive tsunami. Afterward Shumpert sent out a series of joking-but-not-joking tweets asking if maybe all the games could be played in Cleveland.

I can tell you with certainty that Oracle will be rocking tomorrow in the minutes leading up to tipoff. It will probably feel a lot like an earthquake. So don’t be surprised if you see Shumpert flee the premises during the pregame intros. Advantage: Warriors.

NBA Finals Predictions

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 1st, 2015 by bill

We'll be seeing a lot of this in the next couple weeks.

So everybody wants to know, what do I think will happen in the NBA Finals?

Here’s one thing that’s for sure: We will see a lot of “LeBron vs. Steph” hype, when of course the actual competition is between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the MVP and the King cancel each other out, or if LeBron is only a little better, the Warriors win. Hands down. The depth of the two rosters is not comparable.

However: If there’s one player in today’s NBA capable of winning games through sheer force of will, it’s LeBron. He is playing at Jordanesque levels of confidence and focus right now. And he really, really wants to bring a championship to Cleveland. He is a force to be reckoned with, and has motivated his questionably talented supporting cast to play at a level much higher than they appear capable of.

The “questionably talented” part does not apply to Kyrie Irving, who is a phenomenal player but has been hobbled by injuries. If he is healthy in the Finals, that changes the equation somewhat. But the Warriors are still deeper and will be able to bring waves of fresh bodies that the Cavs can’t match.

So I can’t really predict anything, except that:

- Riley Curry will continue to be exceptionally cute
- Her father will continue to be exceptionally good at basketball
- His mother Sonya will enjoy a margarita at one of the games, but will not offer a sip to her pregnant daughter-in-law
- LeBron will dunk and flex his muscles
- The commercial breaks and halftimes will be interminably long
- We will hear that God-awful Black Eyed Peas song at least four more times

OK, OK, fine…you want a real prediction? I predict that I will be on an airplane to London on June 15, and in an ideal world, the Warriors will be world champions by then. Make of that what you will. Now let’s play ball.

Round 3, Game 5: Warriors 104, Rockets 90

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 28th, 2015 by bill

So here we are: It’s almost June, only two NBA teams are still in the championship hunt, and one of them is Our Golden State Warriors. That’s bizarre. That’s new. But it’s pretty cool too.

The W’s closed out the Houston Rockets last night in a game that was less than artistic. Steph Curry was the quiet, facilitating version of the basketball genius he is, not the mind-blowing, bomb-dropping version. Klay Thompson got into foul trouble and then took a knee to the head from Splash Brother Hater Trevor Ariza. On the other side, James Harden had an absolutely miserable night, setting a new record for most turnovers in an NBA playoff game with an unlucky 13; it was almost like he was cursed.

Who did have a good game was Harrison The Senator Black Falcon Playoff Barnes. He scored 24 points, 13 of them in the 4th quarter, including a personal 9-0 run that pretty much decided the game. And Festus Ezeli, of all people, stepped up with 12 huge points and 9 huge rebounds. This is a team that knows how to share – the ball, the heroics, the limelight…

We will be seeing a lot of Riley Curry in the next week, as the media struggles to fill up time before the Finals get underway on June 4. There are seven long, long, basketball-free days between now and then. How do we distract ourselves? Ideas?