Thoughts on Game 2 of the NBA Finals while Balls tries to decide whether the Warriors should be charged with felony theft or misdemeanor shoplifting in the opener …
The Warriors are in position to gain a chokehold on the best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Cavaliers today, but so much for the bad news.
A year ago, as you may recall, the Warriors were in a similar position. The Cavaliers were down to LeBron James and six guys named Dellavedova, shot 31 percent in the field yet somehow prevailed 95-93 in overtime. The homeboys coughed the ball up 18 times and committed 31 fouls.
When the Cavaliers won
Game 3 in Cleveland, too, 96-91, it was a series all of a sudden.
No doubt that coach Steve Kerr will remind his players of what took place a year ago, but whether they listen is another matter. See, that’s the problem with this team. The Champs are so deep, so talented, so cocksure about themselves, no shot or pass or predicament is too difficult in their minds. They’re rarely at their best unless they have to be. (See: Western Conference Finals.) So while the temptation is to think the Warriors will put this puppy to bed in four or five games, that may be too darn easy.
The Warriors have to feel like they’re playing with house money now. They had no business to win the opener, not on a night when Splash Brothers Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry were reduced to a sprinkle. Not by a 104-89 score, anyway.
For all the talk the Cavaliers either can’t or won’t play defense — and some of it is true — they lost the game at the other end. James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love believed they had so much to prove in this series, it seemed, they forget there were two other guys on the court.
J.R. Smith hoisted three field goal tries in 36 minutes. C’mon, he comes out of the tunnel with that many shots. Then there was Channing Frye, who expended more energy while he tried to explain his one shot than he did in his seven minutes on the court.
So criticize James all you want —shouldn’t he take the ball to the hole over and over again? — but Irving is mostly to blame here. As the point guard, he has the ball more than anyone. It’s his responsibility to put it in the right hands.
In a few hours, we’ll know whether the Warriors plan on a short series or a long one.
MVP? HEY, IT’S KLAY: Yeah, it’s early, but on the basis of his 41-point jaw-dropper in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals alone, Thompson merits serious postseason Most Valuable Player consideration. Because without it, the Warriors almost certainly would be on the fairways right now.
Who saw this coming five years ago? Certainly not the Cavaliers, who drafted Irving and Tristan Thompson ahead of him. Truth is, nobody in the Warriors’ organization predicted this, either.
Yet there was one person who sensed this was possible if not likely.
“Yeah, I did,” younger brother Trayce told Balls the other day. “In high school, Klay played against talented guys. In college, I saw him play against the top players in the nation. I never said it at the time, but I always thought he was the best out of all those guys. But he never got that recognition.
“In sports in general, and basketball especially, an athlete doesn’t change much from a very young age. It’s just a matter of adjustments. He has made the adjustments, and he still works hard to get better at this stage of his career. I’m proud of what he has become.”
While Curry and Green haven’t been their consistent selves lately, Thompson has averaged 25.2 points per game on a team-high 44 percent from beyond the arc. And he has done it while often matched against the top gun at the other end.
“A special player,” Trayce called him. “I’ve believed in him since Day One. I know he’s capable of this. I’m not surprised by anything that he does.”
IT’S PENS AGAIN: Turned out the Pittsburgh Penguins did a number on the Sharks in more ways than one in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Even though San Jose was the No. 6 television market in the country, it could do no better than 5.3 and 5.6 ratings in the first two games, respectively. Mind you, these were the first such games in Sharks history. At No. 23 overall, sports-mad Pittsburgh generated 30.5 and 27.5 numbers.
Just one more reason why the Capital of Silicon Valley isn’t fit for a major professional sports franchise, let alone one played on ice indoors.
THAT’S LOGAN IMMATURE: It comes as no shocker that the Sharks’ Logan Couture has whined that Sidney Crosby cheats on faceoffs. Couture was a jealous heart even before John Tavares was drafted ahead of him in juniors, which prompted mommy and daddy to have hissy fits and threaten to take their poor baby to another league.
Years later, Couture is perhaps known best for two things: His bromance with ex-teammate Jamie McGinn and the porn sites that he tweeted to followers supposedly by mistake.
That Crosby won the crucial draw late in Game 2 also was no surprise whatsoever. One day earlier, the Penguins’ captain was at the team practice facility, where he worked on faceoffs among other things. See, that’s how you become the best player in the world.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: Ex-Athletics pitcher Dan Haren after PEDs loser Marlon Byrd got busted again: “Can I get back all the home runs he hit off me please? Thanks”.
JUST SAYIN’: The NBA reports that it will consider a fourth referee at games next season. Hey, why not? That would give it a 33 percent better chance to manipulate the outcomes.
If the NFL allows the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, that’s one thing. But if it allows two marijuana companies to sponsor Mile High Stadium in Denver, then the league really has gone to pot.
Tom Brady may run out of courts to overturn his Deflategate suspension, but there’s always Judge Judy, and fellow Michigan alum Jim Harbaugh has connections, you know.
Chicago Cubs newcomer Ben Zobrist hit only .406 in May, and Balls is thinkin’, yep, A’s genius Billy Beane fooled ‘em again.
Madison Bumgarner, your Silver Slugger Award is ready . . .
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