OK, Charles Barkley, are you happy now?
How ’bout you, Doc Rivers? James Harden? Dwight Howard …?
The Warriors find themselves knee-deep in adversity for the second time this postseason, this time it’s against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Regardless of how it turns out, at least we won’t have to hear the critics whine about their good luck. Because if the Champs repeat, they no doubt will have earned it.
Start with their health problems and the dilemma of whether to play a big or small lineup.
The Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson has been a monster inside, and with Andrew Bogut unavailable, backup Festus Ezeli may be best suited for the assignment. But as if LeBron James isn’t a big enough problem, J.R. Smith and especially Kyrie Irving have posed considerable threats outside. That calls for Draymond Green to move to the middle in a smaller lineup, except that wingman Andre Iguodala may be limited because of a bum back again.
Yeah, coach Steve Kerr has decisions to make, all right.
Then there’s the ill-timed remarks made by Ayesha Curry, who vented on social media after her famous hubby Stephen got called for a few cheap fouls in the blowout loss on Thursday night.
“I’ve lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money … Or ratings in not sure which. I won’t be silent. Just saw it live sry,” she tweeted. The comments were erased a short time later, but it was too late. The damage was done.
Mrs. Curry is’t the first person to raise the credibility question and she certainly won’t be the last. Why did hack referee and noted Warriors nemesis Scott Foster show up in Game 6, for instance? There’s no good time for him to show up in the playoffs — period. Foster was widely reputed to be among the worst at what he does, and his presence only fueled speculation that the higher-ups sought to extend the series.
Nonetheless, it’s one thing for a fan or media member to call out the league but quite another for the wife of the reigning two-time Most Valuable Player do to it. Mrs. Curry couldn’t have picked a worse time to come off as a sore loser. The outcome had long been decided when Curry was ejected late in the game. Just let it go.
It’s unlikely the NBA will be bullied to change its whistle especially in a winner-take-all game, anyway. If Curry were to get the benefit of all doubts, the league would open itself to more criticism that the squeaky superstar got the grease.
Whether it’s LeBron and Cleveland finally on top or Steph and the Warriors as repeat champions, there are two great stories here.
Either way, the league stands to be the biggest winner here.
CRAZY DAYS: If you can make sense of this series, then call Balls at 1-800-BEATS-ME.
Just when you thought the Warriors had a grip on this thing, Green has a loud brain fart, draws a suspension and turns the finals around. Now the Cavaliers have reeled off two victories in a row, and it’s a series again.
Every stinkin’ game has been decided by double figures — 15, 33, 30, 11, 15 and 14 points. If the basketball gods are just and fair, they’ll give us a buzzer-beater just once. Pleeeeease?
Balls’ prediction: Warriors 156, Cavaliers 84.
THE CAVS PLAY DEFENSE? The Cavaliers have gotten away with a lot of clutch and grab, as Kerr was quick to point out after Game 6, but that’s hardly a news flash. The playoffs are a different animal than the regular season. Have been since the league game into existence.
The fact is, the ability of the Cavaliers to hold Curry (43 percent) and sidekick Klay Thompson (38 percent) below their averages at the 3-point line has been a major development in the series. As a team, the Warriors shot 33, 46, 27, 47, 33 and 39 percent from beyond in the arc in the six games thus far.
That has to change for Warriors to become Champs again.
WHERE’S HARRISON: Harrison Barnes has bricked 20 of 22 field goal tries in the last two games, and it has been painful to watch.
It’s like Barnes has Steve Sax Syndrome all of a sudden. You know, he can’t throw a round object in a straight line to save his career.
JUST SAYIN’: Kevin Durant, your Warriors contract is ready …
JUST DON’T DO IT: In this world of 140-word Twitter messages and 15-second bytes, legacies change as often Facebook posts. But the next person who says James isn’t a clutch player should be drug-tested immediately.
Guess who has the highest points average in elimination games in NBA history? That’s right — James. His 32.9 mark ranks higher than Michael Jordan (31.3), who’s second on the list.
James comes off consecutive 41-point games, the fifth player in league history to do so. And don’t forget his 27 rebounds, 15 assists, seven steals and half-dozen blocked shots.
So James bashers need to give it up. Yes, he has flaws like anyone else. But unless he never scores another point in the postseason, his legacy is firmly in place.
THE LIST: Most likely outcome and margin of victory in Game 7, courtesy of Bovada:
Warriors by 3-6 points, 5/1
Cavaliers by 3-6 points, 13/2
Warriors by 10-13 points, 13/2
Warriors by 21-plus points, 13/2
Warriors by 7-9 points, 15/2
Warriors by 1-2 points, 10/1