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 »

Here We Go Again

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 14th, 2018 by bill

I haven’t written a word about the NBA playoffs so far this year, for a couple of reasons. One is sheer laziness. Another is that when I went back and reread posts from previous seasons, some of them struck me as rather tedious. And if I think they’re tedious they must be, because I’m quite vain about my writing.

But then sometimes it’s really less about the reading than the writing. Keeping the old instrument tuned and so forth. So let’s do this.

Later today Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets will tip off. It’s been a weird year for Dub Nation; after last season’s 16–1 romp through the playoffs, a certain malaise seemed to settle over the team and its fans. It was hard for all of us to get up for each and every game like we used to; three straight seasons extending all the way into June had taken their toll. Read more »

Status Report, October 2017

Posted in Golden (State) Years on October 24th, 2017 by bill

This blog has been on life support lately, but I’m not quite ready to let it die. After 12 years and 1000+ posts, The Philter feels like an old friend, though I’ve been devoting most of my energy lately to The Beatles Plus 50.

So let’s see…what can we talk about? I’ve thought often lately of writing about politics, as there’s so much to write about. And then I think…nah…healthier not to think about it any more than you already do.

There’s the Warriors, I guess. That’s a pretty safe topic outside of Cleveland, and maybe Oklahoma City. The NBA season started a week ago, taking many of us a little by surprise, as the first game is not usually till Halloween. But this time the season was extended in an attempt to minimize the number of back-to-backs teams play, with the result that neither the W’s or I were quite ready for game 1. They had just gotten back from China while I was still in Europe celebrating an important birthday.

That game was a close loss to the annoying Houston Rockets, and since then we’ve both been rounding slowly into shape. There was a win and a loss, with me only managing to catch part of each. Game 4 last night was a little shaky, the Warriors struggling early with the underwhelming Dallas Mavericks, me with the technology I use to watch the games. But in the second half we got it all figured out and there was some nice relaxing garbage time, including an off-the-backboard-self-pass dunk by rookie Jordan Bell. I expect it will be an enjoyable season.

It is a little different to be a Warriors fan this year, even from the previous post-championship season. This time, the Dubs are coming off a 16–1 playoff run, and it is widely accepted that they are a mortal lock to repeat. Motivation is inevitably a problem under such circumstances, for players and fans alike.

But if that’s all you have to worry about, things could be a lot worse. It takes a minute to get the machine cranked up again, right? One step at a time.

Round 4, Game 5: Warriors 129, Cavaliers 120

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 13th, 2017 by bill

2017 NBA Finals - Game Five

It’s a funny thing to be a Warriors fan here in 2017. I think that the overwhelming emotion in Dub Nation today is not so much jubilation as relief: We didn’t fuck this up. Given perhaps the most talented basketball team ever assembled, we did not fail to win the title everyone has assumed to be ours since Kevin Durant announced he would be joining the W’s last July 4.

I wouldn’t say it was easy, exactly. The Cavaliers competed hard in each of the last three games of the Finals, although history will probably not remember it that way. On a personal level, I spent a very nervous day yesterday fighting off visions of last year’s el choko gigante, and let out a big exhale as the last minutes of Game 5 finally ticked away.

But that’s all in the past now. Today it’s time to celebrate, and to relax, and to enjoy. There are good articles to read here, here, and here. Put your feet up, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, and savor this moment. The Warriors have won the championship, and all is right with the world.

Round 4, Game 4: Cavaliers 137, Warriors 116

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 10th, 2017 by bill
This about sums it up.

This about sums it up.

Q: So what happened last night?

A: I’m not 100% sure, as many fine wines had been opened in anticipation of a championship celebration. All I remember is the Cavs making pretty much every shot they took, a bunch of questionable calls (going both ways) by the officials, and a general sense that everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Q: On a scale of 1–10, how worried are you now?

A: On the one hand, it seems utterly inconceivable that the Warriors could lose four in a row to choke this away. On the other hand, maybe that word doesn’t mean what I think it means. I thought it was inconceivable that they could lose a 3–1 lead last year, and we know what happened. So…6 or 7, I guess?

Q: What will happen in the next game?

A: Allah willing, there will be a regression to the mean and the W’s will finish this thing off, and there will be much rejoicing. Sadly, Game 5 is not until Monday, which means spending the whole weekend on tenterhooks. That’s a funny word if you stare at it for a minute. Tenterhooks.

Anyway, where was I? Game 5, right…well…I wanted there to be some drama in this series, and now we have some. Enough, I say! That’s enough drama! I’d love a good old-fashioned blowout on Monday, but I’ll take any kind of W we can get. Can I get an amen?

Round 4, Game 3: Warriors 118, Cavaliers 113

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 8th, 2017 by bill

What a magnificent basketball game that was.

All due credit to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and especially to LeBron and Kyrie, who showed up big time (38 points for Kyrie, 38/11/9 for LBJ). But the Warriors rope-a-doped them; hung in there until the very end of the game, then struck like a cobra and ended the game on an 11–0 run.

God, it was beautiful. I don’t want to ruin it by talking about it too much. Here:

Of course, there is still the small matter of winning one more game. Am I nervous, thinking back to last year’s epic collapse? Sure, maybe, a little. The odds are astronomical, but you never know…there could be an injury, a brawl, a freak indoor thunderstorm, or some other act of God. But as of this moment right now, how could things be better?

Round 4, Game 2: Warriors 132, Cavaliers 115

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 5th, 2017 by bill

The thing that will probably not be remembered about last night’s game is that the Cavaliers played great. They scored 64 points in the first half – which was still only good for a three-point deficit. Then in the second half they ran into the buzzsaw that is the 2016–17 Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant was everything we ever imagined he might be — blocking shots, dunking, draining 3s, and basically looking more than ever like a fiendishly designed basketball cyborg. Steph Curry had a “quiet” triple-double; ceding a lot of possessions to Durant, then stepping up to make the occasional statement three from the parking lot, or running LeBron in circles for a full possession before casually slicing by him for a layup:

Klay Thompson hit a few shots, and the rest of the team ran like the well-oiled machine they are. It was beautiful to behold.

And here we’re getting into dangerous territory. The Warriors played so well in the first two games of this series that it seems inconceivable that they will lose one. But then I think back to last year, when the W’s were up 3–1 in the Finals and I wrote a gloaty blog post that now haunts me. Game 3 is Wednesday in Cleveland, and I expect (even hope) that the Cavs will play like wild dogs and make things interesting. Time is running out for something dramatic to happen in these playoffs, but it’s not over till it’s over.

Round 4, Game 1: Warriors 113, Cavaliers 91

Posted in Golden (State) Years on June 2nd, 2017 by bill
Kevin Durant spent a lot of time last night doing this.

Kevin Durant spent a lot of time last night doing this.

There were some anxious moments shortly before 6:00 last night as I waited outside the Arcata Theater Lounge for the doors to open. I was already nervous about the playoff game between the W’s and Cavs, the first since the debacle that was Game 7 of last year’s Finals, and the good people at ATL — whom for the record I dearly love — were not helping by taking their sweet time about letting us in.

But by tipoff I was safely in my seat, martini in hand, and from there on things went swimmingly. There is no official “perfect game” in basketball as there is in baseball, but the Warriors’ performance in Game 1 was about as close as you can get. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more: Kevin Durant’s numerous vicious dunks, Steph Curry’s pull-up 63-footer, or LeBron James’s constant whining and crying.

I say this with all due respect to LeBron, who of late has been making a convincing case to be considered possibly the best player in the history of basketball. But speaking purely objectively, he is a crybaby. He’s used to getting things way and when he doesn’t, he gets real petulant real fast.

And things were not going his way last night. His team turned the ball over a lot, failed repeatedly to play defense, and appeared to visibly quit halfway through the third quarter. The Warriors, meanwhile, tied an NBA record by committing only four turnovers in the entire game. Which leads one to think that this whole thing was probably a little fluky; I don’t know if it’s possible for anyone to consistently be as good as the Warriors were last night. I expect the rest of the series to be a little more competitive. But for one night, it was a lot of fun.

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?