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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Carlos Lyra Quote of the Day

Posted in Whatever Else on June 6th, 2015 by bill

“I consider myself politically proletariat. I consider myself economically bourgeois. And artistically I consider myself an aristocrat.”

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.

Chris Farley Quote of the Day

Posted in Read it in books on June 2nd, 2015 by bill

I’ve been reading Live from New York, the oral history of Saturday Night Live, and I really loved the following anecdote from Bob Odenkirk:

Chris Farley was like a child. He was like an eight-year-old. One time when he was fucking, rip-roaring drunk in Chicago, he was tossing furniture around his apartment, actually picking it up and throwing it like ten feet. It was scary, man. Then all of a sudden, he turned to me and said, with complete innocence, “Do you think Belushi’s in heaven?”

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?

Round 3, Game 4: Rockets 128, Warriors 115

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 26th, 2015 by bill

Steph Curry walks off the court after whacking his head. But it's Andrew Bogut who looks concussed.

At about 7 o’clock PDT last night I was sitting at a table at Tomo on Arcata with the family, eating oysters and sautéed peppers, drinking hot sake. There was warmth, there was merriment, even though the Warriors were getting spanked by the Rockets, having given up 45 points in the first quarter. They had been down 22-7 and 25-10, but the screen at the bar was about 20 feet away, so I could barely make out what was happening in the game. Which was a mitzvah.

Then I saw something horrifying out of the corner of my eye. Stephen Curry tumbled over Trevor Ariza, landed hard on his head and neck, and didn’t get up. For awhile.

There was no way to be sure, at the moment, that he hadn’t broken his neck. ESPN kept showing the replay and it looked really bad. Medical staff clustered around Steph’s prone body wearing grim expressions, the broadcast cut to a commercial break, and I felt like I might vomit on the dinner table.

But a few minutes later he arose and walked off the court to audible sighs of relief from all over Northern California. The game continued and Steph even came back to play in the second half, a move of which I did not personally approve, but no one in a position of authority asked me.

The Warriors had gone on a nice run when Steph went down, and kept making runs in the second half, but just couldn’t quite get there. James Harden was once again out of his mind, scoring seemingly at will and finishing with 45 points. So the Warriors lost for the first time in 16 days and who cares? Tomorrow Curry will be back in uniform, the Dubs will be back in Oakland, and life will go on.

Round 3, Game 3: Warriors 115, Rockets 80

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 24th, 2015 by bill

It's good.

In the conclusion of the last post I said:

It is possible, I suppose, that the Dubs will find the extra gear they haven’t had so far in this series, and crush the dreams of the good people of Houston.

And, wow, what do you know? Last night the Rockets looked listless from the drop, even though they were playing at home; and the Warriors were in full-on soul-destroying mode, playing great defense that turned into easy offense, and just flowing, man. They were up 25 at halftime, the final differential was 35, and it was not actually that close.

Steph Curry had the kind of game that makes sportswriters reach for their thesauruses. Fran Blinebury of NBA.com called him “A silk buzzsaw, a lacquered jackhammer, steel-belted seduction, a digital prayer.” Whatever that means. I don’t think I have the right words for it either. It wasn’t just his 40 points, his 7-of-9 3-point shooting. It wasn’t just the left-handed scoop that kissed off the glass all the way up at the top of the square and dropped softly through the net. There was one play where Steph boxed out 7-foot behemoth Dwight Howard, grabbed the rebound with one hand, and got fouled attempting a layup. He was just awesome. I don’t know what else to say. Look at this:

Game 4 is tomorrow night in Houston, and you have to wonder how the Rockets will bounce back from the whupping they just received. Will they be able to salvage a little pride by sending the series back to Oakland for Game 5? It’s hard to imagine somehow, but you never know. I’m not going to even worry about it. Life is too good at the moment.

Round 3, Game 2: Warriors 99, Rockets 98

Posted in Golden (State) Years on May 22nd, 2015 by bill

The clock struck 0, and there was much rejoicing.

I had hoped that the Warriors would come out last night and make a definitive statement about who is the better team. And for a while it looked like it was going to happen; as SFGate tells it, in the first half,

The Warriors used a 17-4 run that spanned the first and second quarters to take a 49-32 lead on Barnes’ three-pointer with 7:43 remaining in the first half, and the Rockets were seemingly unraveling. Harden was yapping in the timeout huddles, and McHale was hushing him. Howard tapped McHale on the shoulder but got no reaction from his coach.

But then a funny thing happened. The Rockets pulled themselves together and got back in the game, and it was neck-and-neck the rest of the way. Eventually, the Warriors ended up leading by one point with about seven seconds to go.

I don’t think anyone in Dub Nation enjoyed seeing James Harden dribbling up the court in a position to win the game with a score, after he’d spent the last ninety-five and a half minutes of basketball torturing us by throwing it in from everywhere, knowing that he is the most prolific drawer of fouls in the NBA today. It was definitely a tense moment at the homestead on Evergreen Ave. A wildcat did growl; two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.
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