June 19, 2016, 9:38 pm
In this nasty business of writing about two teams — one the winner and one the loser — it’s hard to convey reasons why one team won and one team lost without diminishing the greatness of the losing squad.
The Warriors flirted with being history’s greatest team, possessing unworldly gifts and a flair for the dramatic to go with those record-breaking 73 wins.
But the warning signs were there. The Blazers played them tough and the Warriors just sort of did their thing and we wrote it off as being related to Curry’s knee injury, the rust and the assimilation period.
Then Oklahoma City showed up to an increasingly quiet Oracle Arena and punched them in the mouth in a game they ultimately lost. The Thunder appeared to have more athleticism and more importantly it looked like they held a god key, being able to switch everything the Warriors ran and hang tough.
The Warriors ran their normal stuff with their normal lineups and found themselves in a 3-1 hole. Draymond Green was in the crosshairs as he continually lost his cool, and the Warriors looked somewhat shook. Steve Kerr was no longer being lauded for his lineup decisions and adjustments. Kerr and his players constantly got caught up in the refereeing. They escaped against the Thunder and again — we wrote their problems off and declared them the prohibitive favorites in the Finals.
Across the court stood a Cavs team with no answers for the superior roster that the Warriors have.
Kevin Love would be rendered a non-factor because he isn’t a great fit for the series any way one slices it. Draymond Green, who ran into multiple Thunder players that matched up well with him, was now in a series in which he could flourish. Tristan Thompson wouldn’t be able to handle the Warriors’ switches on the perimeter, let alone Love, and players like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes would make J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson look silly. Kyrie Irving would be blanketed by Klay and Curry would not be covered by anybody that the Cavs could throw at him.
Early on it appeared that way.
But as the Warriors were putting the finishing touches on Cleveland in Game 4, and LeBron and Draymond ignored crunch-time action to have a war of words, it became clear that Green had once again struck the family jewels in a dirty manner. As it sunk in that he wasn’t going to get another pass and a suspension was on the way, the cumulative effect of the Warriors’ journey to that point finally set in.
Draymond, for all of his positives, didn’t care if he was more valuable to the team than his ego was to himself. The Cavs, who had seen LeBron misplace his jumpshot and most of their players lose their confidence, suddenly felt like they were playing with house money.
Get a win in Game 5 with no Draymond. Come home. Get a win in Game 6 and now we’re on to something.
Playing at their best now, the Cavs were locked in and like the Thunder did before them, they decided to switch almost everything and take away what the Warriors do best in their flow offense. And just like the Warriors did for the duration of these playoffs, they kept running their normal stuff and tried to do things their way. Steve Kerr continued to use lineups that clearly didn’t work, in particular with Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao — and continued to demand that the Warriors move the ball rather than isolate their best players in winning matchups.
They wanted to play the Warriors way. The way that got them to 73 wins. As if changing would somehow invalidate their stranglehold on greatness.
Maybe they set themselves up for it by aiming for the title of ‘best ever.’ Maybe the egos of the players involved wouldn’t allow for them to hunker down, take good shots and find winning matchups. Maybe they were too caught up in the refereeing and the ‘us against the world’ mentality that can be both empowering and intoxicating. Maybe they simply did not know how to change.
Ultimately we all believe in ourselves and the things that we do and we do so at our own peril. It’s when we test those beliefs that we truly become the best that we can be. The Warriors have all summer to do exactly that.
April 25, 2019, 2:06 amLou Williams - G - Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams went off for 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting in a 129-121 win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Williams went 1-of-2 from deep and 8-of-9 from the stripe. He also contributed four rebounds and 10 assists to the stat sheet. When the Clippers were down 118-117 with under two minutes left, Williams hit a 4-point play to go up three points. After that play, he made two more buckets to widen the gap to 125-118. Williams iced the game for the Clippers and he is one of the cogs that keeps the team successful when he is on his game.
April 25, 2019, 2:00 amPatrick Beverley - G - Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley put up 17 points with 14 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.
He shot 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point territory. His attitude and energy provide the young Clippers much-needed confidence. His defense and toughness have helped the Clippers push this series to six games and possibly further, which is something many people would have counted out before the playoffs started.
April 25, 2019, 1:53 amDanilo Gallinari - F - Los Angeles Clippers
Danilo Gallinari put up 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting in a team-high 42 minutes as the Clippers beat the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday to avoid elimination.
He did not shoot the ball well from beyond the arc as he went 3-of-11, but he did shoot 5-of-6 from the stripe. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and one steal to the box score. Gallinari has not been efficient during this series, and it is quite disappointing to see him taking a dip from his high level of production in the regular season. Gallinari will need to bring another performance like this one if the Clippers hope to force a Game 7.
April 25, 2019, 1:44 amMontrezl Harrell - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers
Montrezl Harrell played well in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday as he had 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes of action.
He added five rebounds, two assists and one block while shooting a perfect 2-of-2 from the line. Harrell provided energy and paint dominance for the Clippers throughout this game, which lifted them to a win to force a Game 6. Harrell's only block came late in the fourth quarter on a Kevon Looney dunk attempt, which shifted momentum in the Clippers' favor.
April 25, 2019, 1:38 amJaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers
JaMychal Green started in Game 5 and scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting with three triples in 27 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors on Wednesday.
Green was guarding Kevin Durant for much of his court time during Game 4, and Game 5 was no different. Durant is unguardable, so the 45 points that he scored is not Green's fault. He has been playing well in the starting lineup and there is no reason to believe that his role will change for Game 6.
April 25, 2019, 1:29 amStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry scored 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in Game 5 as the Warriors lost to the Clippers on Wednesday.
The Warriors are still up by one game in the series, but it would have been nice to end it on their home court. Curry added three rebounds, four assists, and one block to the box score while shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. Curry has had a phenomenal series thus far, which is seemingly inevitable with the Warriors' stars. The rest of the roster will need to step up in order to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.
April 25, 2019, 1:20 amKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson followed up his 32-point performance in Game 4 with a 22-point outing in Game 5 on 9-of-20 shooting in a loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.
He made four triples while adding three rebounds and two assists to the box score. Thompson is having a solid series with averages of 18.3 points and 2.5 triples per game in the first four games, The Warriors will have another chance to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.
April 25, 2019, 1:14 amKevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant put up 45 points on 14-of-26 shooting with six rebounds and six assists in a Game 5 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.
The Warriors had a chance to end the series tonight but could not capitalize as they got absolutely torched by Lou Williams down the stretch. Durant added two steals, one block and five 3-pointers to the box score. He was their main scoring option down the stretch and really kept them in the game, but Williams got the best of him and pulled out the win.
April 24, 2019, 11:13 pmChris Paul - G - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul got it done in Wednesday night's win over the Jazz, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three turnovers.
Paul finished this series scoring 17.4 points on 46 percent shooting, both above his regular season averages. He has a habit of increasing his production in the post season and should continue to be a linchpin for the Houston offense as long as he stays healthy.
April 24, 2019, 11:02 pmClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela looked healthy in Wednesday's 100-93 win over the Jazz, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Coach Mike D'Antoni indicated that Capela was feeling a lot better and it certainly looked it tonight. The lob-catching big man is essential to Houston's playoff success and could be in for a huge role in a potential showdown with the Warriors.