Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Hurt 'Em

Kosta Koufos Kontact
So the post-game discussion following the Warrior loss in Denver in Game Five of their first-round series is how the Nuggets might have cheap-shotted fragile shooting star Stephen Curry. A few quick points about this...

> Curry's ankles are such an obvious issue that I'm kind of amazed that anyone would wonder why he'd freak out on trips and hacks. He's also picked up a scratched cornea from Corey Brewer at the tail end of Game Four, and it's obvious that the Nuggets have no one that can stop him in this series. Brewer and Iguodala can stop the penetration, but can't take away the jumper. Lawson can run with him to the cup, but doesn't offer the shot-blocking that's been the Nuggets' only out for his shot. And doubling him has just led to a dunk and three fest for his teammates. Which leaves thuggery and mind games as the last refuge of the desperate, and it just might work. Game Six will be interesting.

> No one thinks the hard fouls of today are really hard fouls, because (a) older guys always think their era was more physical, and (b) the game just isn't officiated that way anyway, and won't be, ever again. If you want to see hacks and more hacks, go watch the college game in some of the major conferences. The NBA attracts the best talent in the world, and chooses to create an environment where that talent stays healthy and has the chance to impact playoff games. And amen to all of that.

> Warrior coach Mark Jackson isn't a stranger to long series, and knows how gaming the refs works; he also had to know that his team isn't so much better than Denver, especially after the loss of David Lee. He kept Andrew Bogut on the bench even when the Warriors got the game down to five in the fourth quarter, and had a puncher's chance at the early closeout. That's because, for good or ill, he was hedging his bet more than a little that Game Six is his real chance to end this; he doesn't really think he was going to win three in a row here, and the last two in Denver. Especially after falling down big in the first half.

> Curry's post-game tete-a-tete with a mouthy Nugget Fan is also a little telling, as was Bogut's two hand shove on the resurgent Kenneth Faried in the second quarter that got a flagrant foul call. It showed me that (a) the Warriors know where their bread is buttered, and could easily take a few shots at Lawson in Game Six, and (b) Curry can be taken out of a game by the mind games. It makes sense; he doesn't really have playoff experience to date, and has to be touchy about injury issues. But that kind of stuff matters a lot more at road than at home.

> Seriously, if you aren't staying up late and/or DVRing these Western games, you really aren't seeing the game at its highest level. The ball movement, the finishes, the shooting, the talent... well, there's just something wrong with the idea that these games don't matter more than, say, Hawks-Pacers, Knicks-Celtics or Heat-Bucks. Half of the Association's first round series have been wild fun to watch, and 3 of those 4 have been way out West. Like, well, usual...

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