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.
Read more »

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.

Round 4, Game 6: Cavaliers 115, Warriors 101

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 17th, 2016 by bill

Good Lord, what a nightmare of a game. The Warriors went down big early — 20 points in the 1st quarter, to be precise — and despite repeatedly clawing their way back into it, could never quite get there. Things just kept going wrong — Andre Iguodala hurt his back, Steph Curry tweaked his hand and got into foul trouble, and in the end it was just one of those days.

The image that will linger is Curry fouling out of the game — !!!!! — with 4:22 left in the game, then for good measure getting ejected after winging his mouthpiece toward the crowd. After the game, Steph’s wife Ayesha went on record saying the game had been fixed. It was an ugly scene all around.

I was watching in a room full of loved ones and alcohol, which lessened the sting somewhat. But on the whole it was not one of your better days to be a Warriors fan. With any luck Sunday —which is when Game 7 will be played in Oakland — will be better. Please, please let it be better.

Round 4, Game 5: Cavaliers 112, Warriors 97

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 14th, 2016 by bill

Since this has turned out to be a long and exhausting playoff season, in the interest of brevity, I’ve written a haiku about last night’s game:

Kyrie and LeBron:
Credit where credit is due.
Draymond’s back Thursday.

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 12th, 2016 by bill

Today the NBA announced that Draymond Green had retroactively been assessed a technical foul for his dustup with LeBron James in Friday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals. In case you missed it, it looked something like this:

How bad a decision is this? So bad I find myself agreeing with Stephen A. Smith.

One explanation is that it’s a makeup call for Draymond’s non-suspension in the Steven Adams incident in the Conference Finals. He probably should have been suspended for that one — and it would have made no difference, as Draymond played horribly in the next game and the Warriors lost badly. They could only have been better off without him.
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Round 4, Game 4: Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 11th, 2016 by bill

Sorry, Bron-Bron. Not this year.

It’s not time to pop the champagne quite yet.

But we’re about as close as you can get after the Warriors took Game 4 from the Cavaliers on their home court. And “took” is the right word; after looking lost and lackadaisical in Game 3, the W’s played with a sense of urgency that was heartening to behold. Even so they were down 5 points at the end of the first half, 6 at the beginning of the second after Kyrie Irving converted the free throw for a technical that had been called on Luke Walton.

At the end of the 1st Luke had protested, quite correctly, over an an atrocious non-call on Andre Iguodala’s buzzer-beating heave. J.R. Smith had slapped Iguodala all over the arms on the shot, and even raised his hand to claim the foul, but no call was made. This was part of a pattern of mystifying officiating throughout the game, and while I think it pretty much evened out in the end, it was painful to experience.

Fortunately, after Irving hit a jump shot for an 8-point lead, the Warriors decided it was time to bear down. Back-to-back 25-footers by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson made it a 2-point game, and you could sense the tide turning. The game was tied at 69 with 4:37 left after an Andre Iguodala three. Read more »

Round 4, Game 3: Cavaliers 120, Warriors 90

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 9th, 2016 by bill

Klay Thompson grabs some floor time after suffering a thigh contusion. It was that kind of night.

What a difference three days make. Apparently the Cleveland Cavaliers took somewhat personally all the criticism, disparagement, and outright mockery they endured in the 72 hours between Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals. Last night they looked like a whole different team, scoring the first nine points of the game and building a 30–10 lead with 1:22 left in the first quarter. For the math-challenged, that’s a 20-point lead. In the first quarter.

The Warriors battled back and managed to get within 8 at the half, but in the third quarter the beatdown resumed. The final score ended up at 120–90, by which time we had long since abandoned our table at the Pearl Lounge in Eureka.

That amounts to a 63-point swing between Games 2 and 3. Were those really the same two teams out there? The Cavaliers looked more confident, more aggressive, and somehow larger than they had in the previous game. Their arms were longer, their rotations faster. It was their defense that won the game for them; they again bottled up Steph Curry, limiting him to 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting, and this time the Warriors’ bench did not come to the rescue. The Cavs’ offense was not bad either; they shot 52% from the field and 48% on threes.

So as a Warriors fan, what can I say? My team got their butts whipped. They seemed stunned by what the Cavs threw at them, and instead of the unbeatable superteam of Games 1 and 2, looked like regular human beings who sometimes get flustered and make mistakes. And instead of a brutal mismatch leading to the Warriors’ coronation as two-time champs, we have a series now.

The W’s are still in better shape than they were last year, when they were down 2–1 at this point. But last night’s debacle opens some questions that will need answering. Game 4 is tomorrow, and with any luck it will be the first actual competitive game of the Finals. Coach Kerr and his minions will earn their paychecks between now and then. I hope.