Sunday, May 24, 2015

Growing Up Dubs: The Warriors Go Up 3-0

Curry, Inside, With The Testes
Coming into tonight's game, it was clear what was going to happen. After two close losses on the road, the Rockets were going to come back home and get their obvious win over the happy to be ahead Warriors. Houston had played too well, the home crowd would be too amped up, and most importantly, the Warriors would be satisfied enough to be up, rather than come out with clear fire in their eyes and go for the kill shot to the series.

So what happened? The game was over by halftime... for the road club. In a series where big early advantages have melted faster than ice cream on a hot day, there was no great run and challenge. The Warriors switched defensive adjustments on James Harden, Stephen Curry came out and crushed the weak Rocket point guards, and the Warriors won by a shocking 35 points.

How bad was it? The Warriors took their first lead four minutes into the game, took their second lead at five minutes, and never trailed again. They didn't turn the ball over in the first quarter, and when the Dubs aren't turning the ball over, they are terrifying. The bench looked better than the Rocket starters, and the Dubs scored dunks after Rocket made baskets, which really should not ever happen. Harden was turned into a low efficiency scorer, and Curry out-bumped Howard and took away an o-board away from him in a sequence that was more emasculating than any dunk facial you have ever seen. Rockets coach Kevin McHale called his team's effort into question, and the vast majority of this one could be called garbage time.

And sure, the Rockets are prone to falling apart against anyone at any time, because when your second and third best players are Howard and Josh Smith, you can fall apart at any time... but to me, this had much more to say about the Warriors than the Rockets. In the past, under Mark Jackson, they were far too content to just get back home with any kind of lead, knowing that their home court was such a strong advantage. In these playoffs, they are now 5-1 on the road. In the past, under Jackson, they'd keep the same defensive matchups, with Jackson going for motivational speeches over switches. In these playoffs, under head coach Steve Kerr, they make adjustments, and they've been unfailingly accurate. In the past, Curry would wear down and get exploited on defense. Now, Curry gets quasi-rest minutes on offense when Shaun Livingston comes in, because Livingston is long and defensively active, whereas past Dub bench guards were sieves.

With both conference finals looking to be the minimum, we're looking at up to nine days off, a ridiculous amount of time, before Game 1 of Dubs-Cavs on Thursday, June 4. The layoff is likely to hurt the Warriors more, since they will start at home, and a weak game at home is more destructive than a weak game on the road. And it seems odd to throw dirt on the Rockets a week after they came back from 3-1 to run the Clippers out of the playoffs... but the Dubs are better than the Clippers, deeper, and smarter. This was the game they were supposed to lose, and they wiped the floor with the home team. They really don't look like they are losing again in May, or interested in giving the world a minute more of basketball than they need to. We'll see if they are that ruthless on Monday.

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