Tag Archives: Warriors

The Hate is Delicious for the DubNation

It’s like a fine whine. Yes, whine. The hate for the Golden State Warriors is nearing crescendo heights and the season hasn’t even started yet.

Basketball fans are criticizing the Dubs for their “so-called” team building. Ruining the game, they say. Tilting the competitive balance, they say. Blah blah blah……All criticisms from people whose teams were not smart enough to draft correctly, build their organizations correctly and now want to discredit a team that is coming off of a titanic let-down in the NBA Finals.

A basketball nation rejoiced when the 73-9 Warriors were tripped up in the NBA Finals after holding a commanding 3-games-to-1 lead on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron got his ring for the land and those dastardly Warriors with their band-wagon fans (I would agree, some are on the wagon).

They hate because the narrative now is that somehow the Warriors have built this illicit structure of greatness differently or unlike other great teams have been built. NOT TRUE !

Six other teams could have drafted Steph Curry but they bought into the notion he was too small and not good enough. Ten other teams could have drafted Klay Thompson but they bought into the notion he was simply a one-dimensional spot-up jump shooter. And, EVERY single team in the Association could have had Draymond Green believing he was too small to be a four, and not versatile or athletic enough to be a three. Well, shame on you and your LOGO-less front office.

Now that Kevin Durant has utilized his God-given and collective bargaining given right to jump to the team of his choice during free agency, teams, pontificators and fans are furious that somehow the Warriors are not playing fair and it’s not good for the game. My contention is that having super teams is fantastic for the game. When the Lakers and Celtics were dominant in the 80’s everyone watched because everyone wanted to see them get beat. I didn’t see the Rockets, Mavericks, 76ers, Bucks or Pistons shy away from the challenge of knocking off these storied franchises. I didn’t see their fan bases whining about how good the Lakers and Celtics were. Those teams and fan bases went out to try and beat them. To compete.

I will say this now and I will say it again. After spending  35-to-40 years loving the Warriors and watching them be the laughing-stock of basketball. A joke, a punch-line. I don’t feel I have to apologize for anything. The Warriors are good. The Warriors are damn good. If they could go on an epic run of championships, I will bask in the glow of happiness. I have been conditioned to know that titles are not a team’s right. I learned that in 1976 after the 60-win Warriors were upended in the West Finals and sent this 5-year old into a miserable two-day crying fit. I will relish each and every moment of this great run.

I will be embracing the hate. The Warriors should never apologize for being great.

Let the games begin

Warriors lose and I’m NOT WORRIED……

The Golden State Warriors loss in Game 1 of their Western Conference Final series versus Oklahoma City is not surprising considering how poorly the Dubs played.

I give all the credit in the world to the Thunder. They kept grinding it out and waited for their opening, sadly for Dubs fans the Warriors gave OKC numerous openings. Poor shot selection and quick shots while leading by double digits was the death-knell. Carelessness with the ball was clearly the Dubs un-doing and chances to add-on turned into buckets in transition for the Thunder.

Steven Adams was tremendous registering a double-double as the Thunder stayed with what they do well and that is go big. Russell Westbrook shook off a 1-for-10 to score 19 points in the 3rd quarter and finish with 27.

The Warriors clearly had trouble with Westbrook’s dribble attacks. His aggressiveness in the 3rd quarter was a tone-setter. It was something the Warriors could stymie during the regular season, they will have to get back to those defensive principles in Game 2 and beyond. Saying they need to defend Westbrook better is easy,  how do you do it ? Not easy. Dubs will need to throw multiple bodies at him and try to guard him with length. Iguodala is the natural choice but he needs to be on Durant. Thompson is probably where the Dubs need to go and hope he can slow him down.

We are already hearing the Warriors talk about how they played the Thunder’s game in Game one. Shaun Livingston, “I think we played their game tonight instead of them playing our game.” Andre Iguodala saw problems with the Warriors pace, “we gotta find our pace at a more consistent level.”

Notice, nary a word about missing so many shots or taking so many rushed shots.

Contrary to what the national media and the Dubs haters will want you to believe, the outcome was only slightly because of things the Thunder did.  Let’s be intellectually honest here, the Warriors were pretty bad. The ball didn’t move. Isolation dribble drives were preferred over pick-and-rolls and ball movement. If OKC is going to insist on playing big the Warriors need to make them pay with ball movement and pick-and-rolls causing mis-matches. They did that tonight on occasion but not nearly enough. When Kerr, Walton and company look at the game film it will become clear.

I am not very concerned. Am I in denial ? Maybe. I just don’t see it. As good as KD and Westbrook are I don’t see the liabilities that Kanter and Waiters are defensively being able to get the Thunder over the top. The haters are hoping that THIS is the Warriors team that shows up the rest of the series. I regret to inform them that this is the worst game the Warriors will play in this series.

The Warriors will win this series. The only question is will it last 5 or 6 games.

Record or not Dubs make history

Whether the Golden State Warriors set the all-time regular season wins record or not does not matter to me. This Warriors regular season will go down in history as one of the great feats in professional sport.

Critics continue to routinely criticize the Warriors over their superior run arguing about the style of play and the competition. In the big picture these arguments run hollow and only diminishes those that don’t give credit where credit is due.

Never in the history of NBA basketball have I seen so many legends from the games’ past go out of their way to belittle a current crop of players. These embittered grey hairs are playing the collective role of “grumpy old men” reminiscing about yester-year and how the game was better “back in my day.” The criticism is beneath the likes of Oscar Robertson and Scottie Pippen, two of the greats of the game.

We all know the game has changed. Is it the Warriors fault that the powers-that-be wanted to bring consumers a more free-flowing game ? In basketball as we see in life, many times when people don’t understand something, instead of appreciating and trying to understand it, it’s easier to rip it. The Warriors style and imprint is certainly relished by those that watch them on a nightly basis. Those in the DubNation appreciate what they do.

For 35 years I watched this team fumble all over themselves. Once Franklin Mieuli passed, they had horrible ownership, bad players and the likes of Dave Twardzik making basketball decisions. The Warriors were the butt of jokes for ineptitude in professional sports. The Dubs were the Cleveland Browns before the Browns were synonymous with failure.

This 70 win season is a credit to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, to the front office of Bob Myers and Jerry West and to the players and coaches who have become only the second team in the history of this game to win at least 70 in a regular season.

This club will not be judged on this historic regular season. The gauntlet known as the NBA Playoffs is on the horizon. The Warriors record-setting year will be a mere footnote if they stumble in their quest for back-to-back championships. The Dubs know the deal. The 82 game schedule is the appetizer. The main course begins next weekend and for Golden State it’s how they will be judged.

Title or not, they will continue to have their detractors. That is OK. The Warriors embraced the dis-respect of Doc Rivers, James Harden and the old codgers that continue to rip them, I expect them to embrace the challenge before them now. As Warriors fans we do need to stop in our tracks for a moment and realize we are witnessing some once-in-a-lifetime type of stuff here. No need to hate on the haters, enjoy the ride friends.

NBA FINALS: Warriors as national villains ??

 

Not only has the NBA Finals not gone according to plan but something almost unthinkable has also transpired. LeBron James and his merry band of complementary pieces have turned into sympathetic figures on the national stage. Think about that, LeBron James as a sympathetic, “woe is me” figure.

I am seeing story after story painting the Cavaliers has this little train that could and building up the story-line of this upstart little Cleveland team taking on the big, bad Warriors. What kind of alternate universe am I living in ? When the did the Warriors and their run-and-gun style turn into what’s wrong with basketball ?

The LeBron love is at an all-time high. The gushing in a lot of circles is over the top. I can also understand it. He is doing something that has never been done before. He is leading a band of role players toward a possible NBA Championship. He is inspiring ordinary and mediocre players to play spectacularly. He has them believing they are better than they really are. It is quite the story.

With that said, the Dubs have suddenly turned into the villains. The nation wants to see LeBron lead his band to an improbable title. Everyone wants to see it except for us long-suffering Bay Area basketball fans. The vitriol and even the hate towards the Warriors is quite alarming. I haven’t seen so many national media members and fans of the game denigrate the Warriors like this……EVER.

I hope the national media is lamenting this Warriors title. I hope when the Warriors win this championship there is frustration, angst and anxiety among national fan bases. I don’t care what they think or how they feel. This is our team. This is our quest. We are told to recognize LeBron’s greatness. I say recognize us, the DubNation.

Cleveland has had their fun. Reality sets in tonight.

Warriors in 6

NBA FINALS: Cavaliers grab 2-1 series lead as listless Warriors cede control

 

At the outset of the series I wrote that the team that was more mentally tough would win the series. So far the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown the Golden State Warriors how a championship team should compete for basketball’s biggest prize.

The media experts will try to convince you that there is some strategic genius to what the Cavaliers are doing, there really isn’t. They are winning this 2015 NBA Finals with guts and guile. A willingness to play as hard as they possibly can and leaving the rest for the weary. Matthew Dellavedova epitomizes the grit of this team. He is out-manned and out-gunned at every turn yet his hustle and determination wins him possessions and helped the Cavaliers grab control of the series

LeBron James was super again with 40 points 12 rebounds and 8 assists, but Dellavedova’s 20 points gave the Cavaliers that second option to give them a 2-games-to-1 lead.

What has to be infuriating for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is it appears the Warriors aren’t exerting the same effort as Cleveland. Kerr wasn’t about to bury his team in the post-game, instead he simply praised their effort in the 4th quarter. We all know how he felt about their effort through the first three-quarters. Despite only losing the game 96-91, the Dubs trailed by 20 late in the third quarter and simply dug to big of a hole. Kerr said he didn’t like how his team began to feel sorry for themselves in the waning moments of the 3rd.

Tell me about it Coach……

Steph Curry even intimated that the Warriors are not coming out with enough energy at the starts of these games. How does that even happen ? How do you play nine months of basketball at the highest level in the world. You are suddenly playing for the sports biggest prize and you aren’t playing with enough energy, not playing hard, getting out-worked and out-hustled by a team with inferior talent. I can not begin to comprehend how that is even possible.

Kobe Bryant had this amazing tweet in the aftermath of the Game 3 carnage for the Warriors tonight……

‏@kobebryant
Cavs playing as if their life is on the line G.S playing as if they have more #NBAFinals down the line #ThisIsNOW #competitionIsEverything

Nuff said.

The Warriors scored 35 points combined in the second and third quarters. They scored 36 alone in the 4th quarter when they played with a sense of frenetic energy and pace. Unless this team is prepared to expend that 4th quarter like energy then they will be in trouble in Game 4.

Draymond Green is nursing a sore back after a hard fall in the 4th quarter of Game 2. He certainly didn’t look like himself in Game 3 and that is bad news for Golden State. The Warriors have relied on his stretch-4 abilities all year to make shots, board and make decisions off of the Curry double-team. David Lee filled in admirably and gave the Dubs a shot in the arm with some spirited 4th quarter play. He is sure to get more minutes in Game 4.

Harrison Barnes was beyond awful. He missed wide open jumpers off of creative dribble attacks by his mates. He even missed a bunny lay-up with no one near him. Barnes must be better.

Andrew Bogut is getting dominated by Timofey Mozgov. At the start of the series I thought the combination of Bogut and Festus Ezeli could play that to a draw at least. Bogut looks worn down and slow and Ezeli has great energy but sometimes his decision-making on the offensive and defensive ends is lacking.

The Warriors bench is playing well but with such sub-par performances by starters Green, Barnes and Bogut the Warriors are in deep.

The troubling aspects of this series so far from the Warriors perspective have nothing to do with X’s and O’s. It has everything to do with the Warriors heart, guts, energy, will-to-win and belief. If they don’t find it, and find it soon they will be on the losing end of one of the great upsets in sports history.

Game 4 is Thursday in Cleveland

NBA FINALS GAME 2 Post-Script: Simple Adjustment Will Change Series for Dubs

 

Furrowed brows and consternation will turn to joy and happiness after Steve Kerr and staff have a chance to survey the damage of the first two games of the NBA Finals.

First and foremost all the credit in the world needs to go to David Blatt and his staff for devising a game plan that has taken Steph Curry out of his comfort zone. As I wrote before the series started, the only way Cleveland can win this series is to make the game ugly and slow. They have done a masterful job of disrupting the Warriors rhythm by mucking the game up. Here is how they are doing it…..

Cleveland is suffocating Curry once he gets past the time line. This isn’t a soft double-team or a funnel to help side defense. This is a furious trap after the predictable high screen. Once they trap, they are being physical with Steph, pushing him to the sidelines. Steph is not handling this trap well because to be honest, no team has done it better this season than the Cavaliers against the Warriors. If Steph tries to dribble out of it there are three defenders there. The goal is simple, “get the ball out of Curry’s hands and make the other guys beat you.” Curry has been inconsistent in getting the ball to his other play-makers and this has hurt the overall continuity of the offense.

Curry needs to attack and be more decisive in getting rid of the ball after the high screen. Usually the screener is Draymond Green. Green has not handled this situation well at all. His hesitancy on whether to shoot or attack the lane exemplifies that dis-jointedness of the Warriors offense. Draymond is wide open…….WIDE OPEN. He never hesitated during the regular season. He can’t hesitate now. If the Cavaliers are going to trap as hard as they are, you need to confidently knock down the jumper if you are open, or attack the lane. Once you drive the ball to the middle, Cleveland has to help and when that help comes he can become the play-maker he has been all year. Dish it to Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes for the corner three or lob it to Andrew Bogut. What Green can’t do is hold the ball and try to figure it out. Cleveland is willing to give open looks to complementary pieces, the Dubs need to knock them down like they have all year. If the Warriors act decisively and swiftly off the high ball screen, they will have open shots.  Cleveland’s defense  will be jumping all over the place. Good ball movement will beat good defense every time. But, when you move the ball you must knock down the open shot.

I think Cleveland has played wonderfully in this series. The first two games have gone exactly according to plan for them. I could care less about all the missed shots for LeBron James. He is all the Cavaliers really have offensively. James had 11 assists in Game 2. The Cavaliers had 14 TOTAL assists. He is the best player in the world and is playing like it. The post presence of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson is problematic for the Warriors but certainly not something that is their death-knell. When the Dubs go small the Cavaliers can only stay big for so long before good ball movement will negate the size advantage and Blatt and staff will have to match the Warriors smaller line-up.

Cleveland can win this series if they continue to muck up the game. James continues being James. And if Matthew Dellavedova continues perpetrating his hex upon Steph Curry.  I think it’s really simple. Cleveland is riding their super-star and the supporting cast is following his lead.

The Warriors win this series if they revert back to the ball movement that made them an 80-18 team entering these NBA Finals. Make Cleveland pay for the aggressive double-and-triple teams. Attack the lane, make Cleveland commit and move the ball. Remember, the Warriors had similar issues with Memphis but when they figured it out, it was game over. I fully expect film session to be valuable in righting the ship. I also expect David Lee to make appearance. Two of his better games over the last two years have been against Miami last year and Cleveland this year. Lee might be rusty but I think he can help if the offense becomes bogged down.

The Warriors have the best road record in the NBA at 33-15 including the playoffs. This series is not about James and his greatness. This series is about whether the Warriors are truly a championship team and are willing to make the adjustments that will lead to a title.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 PREVIEW: Irving out for Finals; LeBron presented with rare opportunity

 

If you are to believe the national media the 2015 NBA Finals are now over and there is really no need to play the remainder of the series……how disappointing.

Despite the clear advantage the Warriors have with the season ending injury to Kyrie Irving, this series is far from over. The last I checked a bad dude by the name of LeBron James is still healthy and still plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The moment, the circumstance the scene was made for this guy and now he will have something he has never had to play with before…….the expectation of NOT winning.

No one expects Cleveland to win. No one. Not a soul in their right mind thinks the Cavaliers minus Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao can win. But, there is one bad dude who will see this as the opportunity of a lifetime. Even people who don’t normally cheer for LeBron will now give him the benefit of the doubt with his decimated club lying in tatters around him.  If James can somehow pull this off I believe it would be one of the great sports feats in the history of team sport.

The national media was really pouring it on today. From ESPN to the NBA Sirius/XM channel to Mad Dog Radio. Not one host was giving the Cavaliers a shot to win the series. In fact they were declaring if Cleveland got this thing to six games it would be a minor miracle.

I’m not buying it.

I love sports because of the unpredictability. No one knows what will happen. That is why we love it. Did any of us see the Seahawks throwing the ball from the one-yard line in the Super Bowl on 1st down? Did anyone see the San Francisco Giants win six elimination games on their way to the 2012 World Series? Did anyone see a band of bandits run through the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament against bigger and badder teams in 1983 and win the national tournament like Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack?

Sports is not scripted. We don’t know how it will turn out. We have a feeling. We think we know. On paper it says the game should turn out a certain way. But, we watch because sometimes we are shocked and stunned by the result.

If LeBron can do this, we should start etching that profile into the Mount Rushmore of all-time greats. If he can do this it would be one of the great feats in the history of sport. For the first time in his athletic life, LeBron James is being given no chance. The Warriors better take notice. They do not need to become the Baltimore Orioles of 1969 or the Washington Bullets of 1975. The Dubs have come too far over the last 40 years for this 80-18 team to become a footnote in basketball lore.

FINISH THEM……..

Up 2-0 Warriors have reason for concern….

 

Usually fans and media types will tell you how great-a-shape teams are in when they are up two games to-nothing in a series. Not me.

With the Golden State Warriors thrilling, heart-stopping 99-98 Game 2 win over the Houston Rockets they are two wins away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975. But, if the Warriors are going to advance to the biggest of stages they have several facets in their game that need to be tightened up.

First, figure out how to get Klay Thompson more involved offensively. To be fair Thompson is having to expend so much energy in guarding James Harden, one can argue he hardly has enough gas in the tank to perform up to his standards on the offensive end. But, the Warriors need Thompson to be a threat and the Rockets, as porous as they have been defensively, are doing a great job in taking Klay out of the mix. Certainly you don’t want Klay forcing the issue, but the Warriors will need his contributions when they head to Texas. They don’t need a 30 point explosion but they need his offensive presence. When Klay is cooking it really opens things up for Steph Curry and his other partners in crime Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.

The Warriors need to take care of the ball. I read a twitter comment that read, “the Dubs need to stop it with the swag passes.” I couldn’t have said it better. The Warriors found themselves too many times in Game 2 jumping in the air with nowhere to go and trying to make the impossible pass. Carelessness with the ball has been a problem all year for the Warriors. When it rears its ugly head in the Conference Finals it can cost you games. The Warriors built up a 49-32 lead in the 2nd quarter of Game 2, the lead should have been 25-to-30. Houston’s defense in the 18 minutes of the game bordered on pathetic, but the Warriors reticence to value the ball cost them when they were building that big lead and it could have cost them the game.

When the series shifts to Houston the Rockets will find a comfort zone at home. I fully expect the whistles to go their way as well. As good as the Warriors defense is, the Rockets will become more aggressive, especially with James Harden’s dribble attacks. He hasn’t taken a ton of free throws in this series and he will be bound and determined to change that in Game 3. If the Warriors attack him defensively too aggressively they will make it easy for the officiating crew to put Harden at the stripe. The Warriors will have to live with Harden going off in this series. The key will be in containing Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones and Josh Smith. Ariza and Smith combined for 37 points in Game 1 but only 17 in Game 2. Ariza struggled Thursday in Oakland scoring only 7 points while Smith scored 10 on 6-of-18 shooting. Contain the complementary pieces and the Warriors give themselves a great chance to win in Houston. Easy to say, not easy to do as Houston has to feel pretty good in losing the first two games of this series by a total of five points.

Move the ball. The Warriors need to rely on what has led them to 77 wins in the regular and post-season this year, ball movement. The Warriors are at their best when the ball is a blur and everyone gets a touch. It is also their greatest strength. While Houston is doing a pretty good job at defending the high pick-and-roll with the switch, their back-side rotations are not very good. If the Warriors can run their sets to completion, they force the back side defenders to make decisions on dribble penetration. When the Warriors do that they have too many options for the Rockets to defend. And this, is when the Warriors slice your heart out. There hasn’t been enough patience on the offensive end. The Warriors need to make Houston play defense. The longer the play takes to develop, the better for Golden State.

While the “experts” will tell you the Warriors have a 94 percent chance of winning this series, it doesn’t feel that way to me. Houston has played a lot better than I expected and I think this is going to be a long, tough series. The Warriors have their hands full with Harden. Howard is a force, but still incredibly unlikable. Ariza and Josh Smith along with Jason Terry and Corey Brewer can get real hot and with their length can cause defensive problems for the Warriors, if they don’t show patience. The Warriors had the best road record in the league, they will need to call on that road toughness heading to Houston for Game 3.

 

Will Warriors fans regret pulling for Houston Rockets ?

 

Something happened as I was writing my Warriors preview for the Western Conference Finals versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers suffered one of the more epic hiccups in the history of NBA post-season basketball. The result is a match-up with the Houston Rockets for the right to play for the NBA title in two weeks.

This is a match-up that many Dubs fans were secretly hoping for. While the Warriors/Clippers match-up would have been more entertaining, I am not looking for entertaining. I want the Warriors to win. Their best chance for winning the West and advancing to the Finals is to play the Houston Rockets. Personnel wise the Warriors had several advantages, but the one player they didn’t have an answer for was Blake Griffin, and that would have been a serious problem. I still thought the Warriors would have beaten the Clippers, but the task would have been more difficult. It would have been a long and arduous series that could have hinged on just a few plays. In my mind too close for comfort, so I was pulling for Houston.

This sounds like I am denigrating the Houston Rockets and what they accomplished and that is not entirely true. But, I have considered Houston soft all season long. Not hotel mattress soft, we are talking Charmin toilet paper soft. Squeezably soft. That changed with the Rockets riveting Game 6 comeback last Thursday night when they came back from 19 down in the late 3rd quarter to beat the Clippers and send their series to a Game 7. Without James Harden on the floor the Rockets outscored Los Angeles 49-18 over the final 14 minutes to rescue their season. You learn a lot about a team when the ship is sinking and I learned the Rockets are not “squeezably soft.”  I saw their toughness on full display.

So now we have a match-up of the two top teams in terms of seeding in the Western Conference. We have two teams that had the top two candidates for the Most Valuable Player award with Warriors point guard Steph Curry easily out-distancing James Harden for the hardware. Houston feels their man was slighted, Harden told the media after their Game 7 win on Sunday that he has felt over-looked all season. It’s an intriguing match-up on so many levels.

Both teams like to shoot the three and both teams like an up-tempo pace. This should entertain the nation watching two teams that get up and down and are adept on the offensive end. The big difference between the two squads is on the defensive end. The Rockets play good defense is stretches, but if you really watch them they allow way too many blow-bys. The Rockets back-side rotations are not consistent. That lack of defensive predictability makes it hard to depend on them. They rely too much on having Dwight Howard behind them to clean up their messes, and unlike his years as Orlando’s center, he is not the same rotating defender. Howard does change shots. He also blocks his share, but his apathy and his unwillingness to “consistently” help his mates hurts this team. I would argue Howard is a good defensive player, but he could be so much better.

Statistically the Warriors are the best defensive teams in the league. They hold opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the Association and it’s probably the biggest reason why they won 67 games. Their defense is also the biggest reason the Dubs ousted Memphis in the semi-finals, especially after falling behind 2 games-to-1. The Warriors commitment to defense was nurtured by former coach Mark Jackson and has now been developed and fully implemented by current head coach Steve Kerr.

Many Warriors fans are citing the Dubs season series sweep as the reason why they think Golden State will roll the Rockets. While those games give us insight into the match-up, they are also a bit deceiving. Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer did not play in any of the four-losses the Rockets had against the Warriors. Right now those two are pivotal pieces off of the Rockets bench. Josh Smith only played in one game for the Rockets against the Warriors because he was only released by the Pistons in January. Dwight Howard missed two of the games against Golden State because of his knee issues, which the Rockets smartly made him rest and recover from during the regular season. These are some key contributors that didn’t see the light of day when the Rockets and Warriors played four times before January 21st. If Warrior fans are hinging their hopes on “past performance is a precursor for future results.” Think again……

The Rockets have had some tough injuries this year and probably the guy they could least afford to lose defensively against the Warriors will not be suiting up. Patrick Beverley is a tenacious defender. He is a ball-hawking guard that disrupts, bothers and hinders opposing guards. In my opinion he was the Rockets best chance to try to contain and slow down Steph Curry. He tore a thumb ligament and has been on the shelf for more than two months. While there are rumblings that he may get his cast off and try to play, I wouldn’t bet on it. Even if he does take the floor he is nowhere near game shape and wouldn’t be the same defensive player we have become accustomed to.

I think the Warriors will win for several reasons but let me start with the obvious. The Warriors are simply better at the transition game than the Rockets. Harden is an incredible player. He is a prolific scorer, beating you from the perimeter and off-the-dribble. He takes a ridiculous amount of free-throws and gets bailed out with his floppiliciousness. But, he is a star and gets his team points. While he averaged 25 points a game against the Warriors this year he really struggled in terms of shooting percentage. Klay Thompson’s harassing defense kept him to 25 percent shooting from three-point range. Harden may get his points but he will have to be a volume shooter, and those are possessions that are empty trips for the Rockets. As we mentioned the Warriors hold NBA teams to the lowest field goal percentage in the NBA and the Rockets propensity to run-and-gun will be met with challenges by the Warriors lengthy perimeter defenders. Thompson and Andre Iguodala will make it difficult for the Trevor Ariza’s and Josh Smith’s to get free and open looks. The Warriors close-outs on jump shooters and ball pressure on Houston will stunt the Rockets cohesiveness.

The only team all season long that has been able to quell the Warriors running game is Memphis. Once the Warriors solved that riddle the series was over. After Sunday’s Game 7 win Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said his team will not change heading into the Warriors series. Let me repeat, he said his team will not change adding, “we are going to do what we do, if they prove to be better at it, then so be it.” Hmmmmmmm, interesting. Indications are that McHale and the Rockets feel comfortable running up and down the floor and trying to out-gun the Dubs. Good luck with that.

I think the Warriors have answers for everything that the Rockets will throw at them. Klay will check Harden. While “The Beard” will get his, it will take him a lot of shots to reach his average, and those are possessions where the Rockets aren’t scoring. Steph Curry is going to torch 38 year-old Jason Terry. Maybe 38 year-old Pablo Prigioni can use his guile to force a few turnovers, but the Rockets have a huge huge huge problem in trying to contain the league MVP. If Houston tries to switch a bigger player to Curry, he can use his quickness to get into the paint, and that will cause mis-matches elsewhere on the floor. The loss of Beverley is devastating at the point.

Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes are both playing at a high level and Green is simply a better and more consistent player than Josh Smith. They both can shoot the three, but Smith has a penchant for disappearing. To be fair, the Rockets don’t beat the Clippers without amazing performances by Smith in Games 5-thru-7. Barnes and Ariza will be a great match-up, but I like Barnes’ defensive prowess to shut-down or at least contain Ariza. Many will point to Smith and Ariza performing at high levels for the Rockets in the Clippers series, but I must highlight, look who was guard them. JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes ? Andre Iguodala, Green and Barnes are much better defenders. Ariza, Smith and even Terrence Jones will not be getting the same looks.

The center match-up is intriguing because Dwight Howard has his moments where he seems like an unstoppable force, then he has his moments where he looks like Mister Whipple, you know the Charmin guy ! Andrew Bogut and Dwight Howard will probably get entangled more than once. We will see if Howard wants to mix it up.  I know the Warriors and Bogut want to get physical with Dwight. The M.O. on Howard is you can get in his grill and it can affect him. Howard will get his, but he is an atrocious free-throw shooter and the Dubs have 18 fouls between Bogut, Festus Ezeli and David Lee to hammer him and send him to the stripe. My advice, if you are going to foul him, hit him  hard across the arms. Make him feel every foul.

The Warriors are an amazing 43-3 on their home floor in the regular season and playoffs. They ALSO have the best road record in the NBA at 32-14 including the post-season. So, even if the Rockets get a game at Oracle. If the Dubs just win one in Houston, the Rockets would have to somehow beat the Warriors again at the Roaracle. I just don’t see it.

This series will be entertaining, high scoring and fun, it could also be short. The Rockets are good at what they do, the Warriors are just simply better at it. The Warriors have answers for the Rockets strengths. Houston has stop-gaps for the Warriors strengths.  The Dubs have a way of coming at teams in waves and when those waves become too much, adjustments are needed. McHale has already said, the “Rockets aren’t changing a thing.” That is a huge mistake. As confident as Houston has to feel after their improbable seven-game win over the Clippers, the Dubs feel just as confident after staring their own mortality in the eye, and emerging even better because of it against Memphis.

Warriors in 5

 

 

 

40 years ago today….the Warriors did THIS !

 

Bill King

40 years ago today was one of the most glorious days in the history of Golden State Warriors basketball in the Bay Area. Bill King describes the final few minutes of the Golden State Warriors glorious upset of the Chicago Bulls in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. This was a massive upset as the Bulls were the odds on favorites to advance to the Finals. The Bulls had Bob Love, Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Nate Thurmond and Tom Borwinkle. The Warriors had the great Rick Barry, two magnificent rookies in Jamaal Wilkes and Phil Smith and merry band of role players that led our beloved Dubs to an amazing upset.  Bill King has this amazing call as the Warriors won 83-79 in front of an insanely raucous crowd in Oakland…..