Last Thoughts on the 2015–16 NBA Season

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

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

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.

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

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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