The Warriors play Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight. OK, it's really Game 4, but it might as well be the seventh game. Because if the Warriors do the unthinkable — lose their third game against an undermanned and seriously flawed Cleveland Cavaliers team — their magical season is all but but o-vah.
Stephen Curry, your moment of truth has arrived.
LeBron James has played like the real Most Valuable Player in the series, and for that, Curry can't be blamed entirely. Curry has had to work too hard to get off shots, partly because of the physical nature of the series, partly because Steve Kerr and his staff haven't made the necessary adjustments. Meanwhile, the Warriors have allowed James to dribble the air out of the ball, control the tempo and get to the rim far too often.
Where are the different looks? Where are the traps to take the ball out of the King's hands? At what point do you dare someone else to beat you?
Yet the most significant difference between the past and present MVP's has been been leadership, something that James knows a lot about from experience but Curry not as much.
At a time when Curry needed to grab the series by the throat, he was passive at the outset of Game 3 on Tuesday. He finished with 27 points, but in the first half, when the game was decided, he passed up open shots, missed a few easy ones and scored three points. Three. It was difficult to tell whether he was frustrated or scared or physically spent or some of all three.
The steely-willed James has been none of that. Since the first jump ball of the series, he has played with a confidence and resolve that clearly has rubbed off on his teammates. If the Cavaliers weren't totally convinced they could win it all after Kyrie Irving went down in the series opener, then James sure as heck has them convinced now.
Curry's body language suggests that he's not nearly as certain about the outcome. There he was in the fourth quarter, shaking his head in bewilderment. He still was shaking it on the way to the locker room. Is it possible that Matthew Dellavedova has gotten inside his head? Matthew Freakingvedova?
If the Warriors are to make it a series tonight, then a lot of things have to change. That starts with their best player. Because if Curry and the Warriors don't dig deep and do it in the next few hours, they're probably history. The bad kind of history.
MAMBA NAILS ONE: Warriors coach Steve Kerr might do well to relay this Kobe Bryant tweet to his players: “Cavs playing as if their life is on the line G.S playing as if they have more #NBAFinals down the line #ThisIsNOW #competitionIsEverything.”
PHENOMENAL HE'S NOT: The Warriors need a Helluvadova of their own right now, and Draymond Green is the obvious candidate for the job. Except that, coincidence or not, Green hasn't been the same player since his Beats By Dre commercial debuted three weeks ago. He has bricked 22 of 30 field goal tries and committed 14 fouls in the series.
Green also isn't 100 percent health-wise, not that anyone is right now. After he took a hard spill in Game 2, he reported that his back locked up at times. He also took another cheap shot from Dirtyvedova in the third game, when the guard responded to a hard, legal pick with a roll block to the knees.
If Green continues to be a liability, then it's time for David Lee to play more minutes.
JUST SAYIN': Yeah, Dellavedova is a scrappy defender, all right, but if Robin didn't have Batman, he would have been just another boy wonder.
RIDDLE ME THIS: If the front office had signed Dellavedova on the cheap as Andrew Bogut practically begged it two years ago, would the Warriors be one victory away from a sweep right now?
GIANT OVERSIGHT: Don't recall a no-hitter that generated less buzz locally than the one that Chris Heston pitched while the Warriors' game was in progress.
That makes four no-no's for the Giants in the last four years, something only the Los Angeles have accomplished in major league history. While the Dodgers had one pitcher (Sandy Koufax) account for all of theirs, the Giants had three different ones — Heston, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Also, let's not forget Buster Posey, who has caught three no-hitters, the second most in major league history.
STAY TUNED: Was that really Colin Kaepernick who charmed the media in Santa Clara this week? He smiled. He was insightful. He was professional. He was fun to be around.
Balls likes to think that, at 27, Kaepernick is ready to mature as a person and a quarterback. But let's wait until December just to make sure.
YOUR TURN: “Do you think the Warriors' bench players should have gotten more minutes after they were such crucial support in Game 1? The starters needed more rest against such a physical (brutal?) team as the Cavs. And why doesn't Kerr give David Lee a chance to get into the playoff games?” — Ken Scudder, Berkeley
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