Same as last year, it’s all right there for the Warriors: an NBA championship, a permanent place on the short list of all-time teams. Ahead 3-1 in the NBA Finals and at home, they couldn’t be in better position if someone put Game 5 on a tee for them.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Warriors not only played like champions on Monday but acted like ones, too?
As brilliant and resilient as the Warriors were in the first three games of the series, it was impossible to like anything they did in Game 4, least of all their mindless response to some rare adversity. The truth is, the best team in basketball acted like bunch of spoiled brats. Practically from the first jump ball, they whined and moaned about everything.
True, the referees were worse than awful. Why, so many Warriors had two fouls in the first quarter, they started to called them on Andris Biedrins for goshsakes.
Yet that shouldn’t have come as a surprise for anyone who has followed the NBA over the years. Remember, this is the same World Wrestling Entertainment production that makes up the rules as it goes along. Hard as it may be at times, great teams rise above the riff raff.
That leaves Draymond Green out, naturally.
Almost one year to the day that Green cost his team a second consecutive league title because of a self-induced suspension, he came this close to losing it again. If his earlier technical foul hadn’t been suspiciously re-assigned almost an hour after the fact, the Green Monster would have been ejected after he picked up another in the third quarter. Had assistant coach Mike Brown not talked some sense into him, who knows what else might have happened.
One would think that Green had learned his lesson by now. Hadn’t he assured his teammates of that only days earlier? In that case, is there any reason to believe him now?
Worse yet, Green talked brazenly between games about the desire to hoist the trophy in Cleveland and stick it to Cleveland fans, whom he had pretty much dismissed as a bunch of dummies. The words only served to motivate the other side, as several Cavaliers players were quick to mention afterward.
Look, anyone with a basketball brain knows which is the more talented team here. As Balls said as far back as last summer, only the Warriors can beat the Warriors again.
But lose focus in Game 5, allow the referees to get into their heads, give LeBron James and his supporting cast another chance, and we’re talkin’ about a seven-game series again.
PAGING STEPH CURRY … It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Stephen Curry to play like he did in the first two games, either.
Fact is, while Curry and Kyrie Irving aren’t always paired against one another on the court, their point guard matchup is on the short list of keys to the series. Start with Game 5 of last year, when the Cavaliers seized control of the series, and Irving had his way with Curry five of the last seven times.
In the final three games a year ago, Irving averaged 30.0 points and shot 52 percent in the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc. Curry averaged 24.0 points on a feeble 36 percent from 3-point land and 37 percent overall. Curry also had three more turnovers than Irving in that span. Sure, Curry played on a bum foot, but Irving had a chronic knee problem himself.
YOU MAKE THE CALL: When Curry plays in rhythm, he’s the most lethal 3-point shooter the league has ever seen. But bump, trip, shove and/or mug him at every turn, as the Cavaliers were allowed to do for much of Game 4, and he’s human, after all.
Let’s see if the referees call the game by Quicken Loans Arena or Oracle Arena rules this time.
JUST SAYIN’: These are the most-watched NBA Finals in the post-Michael Jordan era. If Balls were the Warriors, that would scare me a bit.
Game 4 took two hours, 51 minutes to complete. If the NBA had adopted the MLB intentional walk rule, it would have lasted only two hours, 50 minutes, 15 seconds.
The Warriors and New England Patriots figure to dominate their sports for years to come, and the New York Yankees are about to take over theirs again. So, yeah, the NHL looks better every day.
New Santa Clara has-been Elvis Dumervil said he spoke with “a handful of teams” after his release three months ago. What he didn’t say was that the teams were the Baltimore Brigade, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and New York Jets.
YOUR TURN: “Your Giants article was right on. Last year’s team needed hitting and some pop in the line-up. They were shut out 13 times last year and this did not include numerous games where the pitching was outstanding but the hitting could only produce a measly one or two runs. I saw it coming this year if they did not grab onto meaningful hitting. And sorry to say, the acquisition of their new closer for $15 million per year will do nothing. At the rate that things are going, he won’t be closing many games.” — Joe Rodriguez, San Francisco
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