Round 3, Game 4: Warriors 129, Spurs 115

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 23rd, 2017 by bill
Matt Barnes celebrated the Warriors advancing to the NBA Finals by choking himself on the floor of the AT&T Center.

Matt Barnes celebrated the Warriors advancing to the NBA Finals by choking himself on the floor of the AT&T Center.

Last night the Warriors completed their sweep of the pitifully depleted San Antonio Spurs, advancing to the NBA Finals with a perfect 12–0 playoff record. Which is nice, but a footnote at best. Their mission will not be complete until they win four more — almost certainly against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had a little hiccup on Sunday when they lost a game to the also sadly depleted Boston Celtics. That was probably a fluke that the Cavs will correct going forward, but the Celtics are to be commended for at least offering a little competition.

So let’s go ahead and take a minute to appreciate the W’s advancing to their third straight Finals, a remarkable run of consistent success for a team that before 2014 had managed only one playoff appearance in 20 years. Then let’s forget all about that and look to the future — we have nine days to rest and get ready for the heavy rooting that will be required starting June 1.

Round 3, Game 3: Warriors 120, Spurs 108

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 21st, 2017 by bill
Have a seat, son.

Have a seat, son.

We pretty much knew what was going to happen in this game yesterday morning, when word came down that Kawhi Leonard once again would not be playing. Without him, and with point guard Tony Parker already done for the year (and possibly forever), the Spurs simply don’t have the firepower to hang with the Warriors.

But they did a pretty good job of it for a quarter and change yesterday, with ex-Warrior David Lee torturing his replacement Draymond Green down on the block. Then Lee went up for a contested layup and came down funny. He left the game and did not return — he tore a patellar tendon, it turns out — and once again the Spurs were forced to turn to their bench, bringing in little-used Joel Anthony.

Even after that they hung tight for awhile, but the writing was on the wall. The Warriors started to slowly pull away and while the game never turned into a blowout, there was never any doubt about the outcome.

Meanwhile, over in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers laid a historic beatdown on the Celtics in Game 2 of their series, going up 72–31 at the half and winning by 44. It is now not just possible but likely that both the W’s and the Cavs will get to the Finals without losing a game, which will be…interesting. If both teams sweep their respective series, there will be eight long, long days off before the Finals begin on June 1. How on Earth shall we keep ourselves entertained?

Round 3, Game 2: Warriors 136, Spurs 100*

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 17th, 2017 by bill
It was that kind of game.

It was that kind of game.

This one gets an asterisk too, because with Kawhi Leonard out with an ankle injury, the Spurs looked nothing like the team the made the Warriors’ lives hell for the first 30 minutes of Game 1. He is their linchpin on both defense and offense, and in his absence Steph Curry went immediately into Human Torch mode, scoring 15 points in the first quarter as the W’s went up 33–16.

This game was never close and not, in fact, very interesting. But again, a win is a win is a win. The Warriors need only six more of them to hoist the trophy. The hope all around is that Kawhi will be back for Saturday’s Game 3, making things a little more competitive.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference Finals will finally get underway tonight, with the well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers facing the scrappy Boston Celtics. There are a lot of us hoping that the Celtics can provide at least a modicum of challenge for the defending champs; we shall see what we shall see.

Round 3, Game 1: Warriors 113, Spurs 111*

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 15th, 2017 by bill

kawhi

Now there’s something to write about.

Yesterday My Golden State Warriors and Other People’s San Antonio Spurs met in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. In the pregame show all the talk was about, do the Spurs have any chance at all against this Dubs juggernaut? Is it 80, 90, or 95% likely that the Warriors will win? In one segment, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green’s mothers sat around drinking mimosas and talking like the title was already won. I myself was telling people that any bet on the Spurs was a foolish one, that with Kawhi Leonard playing on a questionable ankle, the series would not be competitive.

Then the game started.

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Series 2: Warriors 4, Jazz 0

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 9th, 2017 by bill
Kevin Durant looms large.

Kevin Durant looms large.

In the second round of the playoffs — a/k/a the Western Conference Semifinals — the Warriors slowly, methodically strangled all the life out of the Utah Jazz, a pretty good basketball team who just didn’t have the firepower to compete at the rarefied level the W’s currently occupy. It’s possible that no one does — with the possible exception of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are also 8–0 in the playoffs, looming on the horizon like a coming storm.

But in the meantime the Dubs will have to play the winner of the San Antonio Spurs/Houston Rockets series, now tied at 2–2. It is of course Wrong to look past any opponent, and those are both quality teams who are capable of causing trouble. But neither has looked what you’d call formidable up to this point, and the Warriors will get to sit back and rest as they fight a war of attrition.

The only problem worth noting at the moment is the continued absence of Coach Steve Kerr, who had surgery this week to address his spinal fluid leak. This is less of a problem for us than it is for Steve, who has apparently been dealing with brutal pain throughout the season. I hope he feels better, whether or not he makes it back onto the court.

In the meantime, the sun is shining, so I’m going to shut down this machine and go walk around in it.

Series 1: Warriors 4, Trail Blazers 0

Posted in Golden (State) Years on April 27th, 2017 by bill
JaVale McGee came up huge against Portland — and man, does it feel weird to be saying that.

JaVale McGee came up huge against Portland — and man, does it feel weird to be saying that.

I haven’t been blogging about the playoffs so far this year, for a couple of reasons. One of them is a desire — which I think I share with the whole of Dub Nation — to do everything differently from the way we did it last year. The loss in Game 7 of the Finals left a bad taste in our mouths that will not be cleansed until and unless our team hoists the trophy again.

Which does tend to take a little bit of the fun out of things. Long gone are the carefree, overachieving Warriors of 2014–15. With the addition of Kevin Durant, this year’s team carries a heavy burden of high expectations, and anything short of a title will be considered an abject failure.

They’re still entertaining to watch, though. In Game 4 of the opening-round series against Portland, they dropped 45 first-quarter points on the Blazers in a blinding blitzkrieg of basketball brutality. They completed the sweep three quarters later and now await the winner of the Utah Jazz/LA Clippers series. Read more »

What Time Is It?

Posted in Golden (State) Years on March 11th, 2017 by bill

I haven’t written much about the Warriors this season because it has been, and continues to be, my officially stated position that the games that matter are those that will be played in April, May, and June. But given the way things have been going lately, it may be time to say a few words.

Until about two weeks ago the Dubs were sailing along, looking set to wrap up the #1 seed in the Western Conference without much effort. New acquisition Kevin Durant was having a remarkably productive and efficient season, and the biggest complaint I was hearing from W’s fans was that it was kind of boring how badly they were beating everybody.

Then, in a road game against Washington, Wizards center Marcin Gortat knocked over Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who rolled onto Durant’s knee. After holding our breath for 12 hours or so, we learned that Durant had a bruised tibia and was projected to be out for four weeks. This was not so bad; the worry immediately after the injury had been that he might be done for the year.

In the meantime, the Dubs lost that game against Washington, then the next one against Chicago — the first time they’d lost back-to-back games in two years. After bouncing back to beat the Knicks and Hawks, this week they again lost back-to-back games to Boston and, last night, Minnesota. Tonight, they play the San Antonio Spurs in a matchup many of us had circled as one to look forward to. But coach Steve Kerr says he’s going to rest Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala; and with the Spurs missing Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, this one had gone from marquee matchup to battle of the benches.

When the smoke clears, the Warriors may have lost three games in a row and five of their last seven, and be clinging to a tenuous half-game lead over the Spurs in the standings. This is no time to panic, though. I mean, if you wanted to, you could, but I don’t think it would be a good idea. Every season has its ups and downs; last year the W’s put off the downs until they got to the playoffs, which didn’t end up working out so well.

In fact I think that this is a good time to affirm that, to coin a phrase, We Believe Again. (Welcome home, Matt Barnes.) Steph and Klay will shake off their shooting slump, Draymond and Andre will get this stretch of peculiar behavior out of their systems, KD’s knee will heal up, and all will be well with the world. And when it does I’ll be there to say, politely and with a smile, “I told you so.”

It’s a Mad, Mad, Kevin Durant World

Posted in Golden (State) Years on July 7th, 2016 by bill

Kevin Durant is a Warrior.

It feels weird to say it, even though I’ve had a few days to get used to the idea. Already boasting the two best shooters on the planet, my team has now added a lethal offensive machine with big-man size and guard skills. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

Certainly the fans in Oklahoma City feel that way. When the news came down on the 4th of July, they started throwing #35 jerseys onto their barbecues. Just a few short weeks ago, the Thunder were up 3-1 on the Dubs in the Conference Finals, and folks in OKC were starting to plan their parade route. Now they’re down to just one superstar, and he may be on his way out the door soon too.

But enough about the poor unfortunate Mr. Floyd, let’s talk about the rich and prosperous Mr. Butch.
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Last Thoughts on the 2015–16 NBA Season

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 23rd, 2016 by bill

It’s long past time to move on to other topics, but a few words first.

After a few days I’m pretty much at peace with what happened. Seeing the real and heartfelt joy that it brought to the people of Cleveland — who I actually have nothing against — helped. It feels like we of the Dub Nation may have started to get a bit greedy, expecting our team to win everything all the time; a little lesson in humility is not a bad thing for anybody.

I’ve also started to look at this in a bit of a larger perspective…like, wouldn’t it be great if the Warriors and Cavs played in the Finals seven straight years, like a playoff series stretched out over most of a decade? That would make the series tied at one, with the Cavs having stolen home-court advantage…just like they did last season, and we know how that turned out.

Can LeBron play five more years? Sure, he’s only 31; by 36 he will have a shitload of miles on the odometer but who knows what players Cleveland may have picked up by then? In five years Steph Curry will be 33, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green 31. There is a lot of great basketball in our future, I think.

I trust the Warriors’ management to do what’s necessary to tweak the team for next year; that may or may not involve a player whose name rhymes with “Bevin Zurant.” The futures of players like Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Mo Buckets Speights remain up in the air. I’d say it’s unlikely that the Warriors pick up anything useful with the 30th pick in the draft, except that Draymond Green was picked 35th. So you never know. The draft starts in a few minutes, and that seems like as good a place as any to leave off for now.

Round 4, Game 7: Cavaliers 93, Warriors 89

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 20th, 2016 by bill

So that happened.

Last night I found myself watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals in a room full of family and friends who had gathered for a wedding. My wedding, to be precise, which had been the day before. It went really great. This considerably softens the blow of having to report that in an exciting, nail-biting, back-and-forth contest the Warriors failed to prevail against the Cleveland Cavaliers and will not be repeating as NBA Champions.

This is a painful truth, but it has to be a learning and growing experience. I mean, it has to. So what have we learned?

1. Stephen Curry is a human being. Over the course of the last couple years many of us have drifted into believing that Steph is something like the Second Coming. And not without reason. But this series proved that he, too, can struggle. He can’t make every single shot he takes, and he can be affected by tenacious and disciplined defense.

2. LeBron James is very good at basketball. In the Finals LBJ led both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Which is, of course, ridiculous. After going down 3–1 and facing all sorts of criticism for his supposed failings in the clutch, he squared his shoulders and more or less willed his team to a title. I still don’t really like him. But you have to admire the performance.

3. Kyrie Irving too. Kyrie came of age this year, showing off his full set of prodigious offensive skills. He’s still not much of a defender, but you can’t have everything. Crucially, Kyrie carried just enough of the load to keep LeBron from getting worn down over the course of the Finals like he did last year.

4. Cleveland is not cursed. The part of me that’s able to be objective about all this kind of likes the fact that Cleveland got a championship. It’s been a long time for them and as a long-suffering-until-recently Warriors fan, I know what that’s like. Better to lose to a Cleveland team than to someone like the Lakers or, God forbid, the Clippers.

5. You can’t always get what you want. (But if you try sometimes, etc. etc.) Of course I would have loved to see the W’s win it all. But it was a great season, it went the maximum, there were lots of good times had. My lovely wife was by my side for many of the games, and hopefully we’ll be back at it next year.