Monday, May 23, 2016

Warriors - Thunder Game 3: Stepping On My Hoop

En Flagrante Defooto
In the second quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, the road Warriors had managed to get back to equilibrium with the home Thunder. Despite the roaring start and back to not very good nature of Harrison Barnes, and the now routine early foul trouble for secret problem Andrew Bogut, the Dub benchies had done the job, and I was settling down for a good hour-plus of pharma grade hoop.

Which is when the Thunder started making every shot, and the Dubs started taking quick ones and not defending, and before the half could end, the lead was 25. OKC didn't play to lose in the third quarter, because that's really not who they are suddenly, and the lead went to 40 before indifference and blown dunks from the deep benchies made the final slightly less lopsided than the actual game. OKC 133, GSW 105. As bad a score as a hoop addict could take, honestly. Dammit, people, I need good games here. Very, very badly.

Your highlight reel this morning will be filled with Draymond Green (inadvertently?) kicking Stephen Adams in the little monkeys (again) for a Flagrant One call, which seemed to precipitate the killing Thunder run, but unless getting singled out for booing every time he touches the ball really threw Green, the play really didn't have that much impact on the game. Rather, it was the complete collapse of the Warrior starters in the second, who missed a lot of attempts they normally make, and then didn't get back on defense at all. For a team that is no worse than a top 10 outfit in the league at defense to go with the preternatural offense, it was a shocking collapse, and we're going to spend the next 48 hours trying to figure out if this was Just One Of Those Games or something far more terminal.

If you want to go for the sky is falling in Oaktown, this was the game for you. Klay Thompson couldn't put it in the ocean. Stephen Curry was tentative. Green seemed rattled all night long, and will probably have to duck a day of suspension discussion. (Which would be, well, kind of nuts because players flail their legs all the time without this level of unluck, and might even serve to fire up the Dubs, especially as HC Steve Kerr is playing the "I'm shocked it was even a flagrant" post-game conference card.) No bench player did much. Short of some early threes from Andre Iguodala, I can't think of a Dub that played very well in this one, and if you bring your D game to a road playoff tilt, you are going to lose. Do it against a team that seems to be putting it all together for the first time all year, and you are going to get rolled.

From an OKC standpoint, they've now gone 6-2 in their last 8 against the two teams that treated the NBA like a speed bag all year, and their confidence has to be off the charts. Kevin Durant was the best player in the world again tonight, Serge Ibaka joined him with elite level rim protection, the benchies and D-and-3 guys played as if this was Rucker Park in terms of not feeling the pressure, and the crowd out-roared every other arena in the Association. They won going away with Russell Westbrook not even hitting a good percentage. And while all of that is fine and good, and I'm completely cool with Peak Durant making an appearance -- honestly, no seven footer should have those handles, or that level of flexibility at the rim on both ends -- I can't help but feel cheated by this series so far.

Game One was slop, with OKC just having the lead late when both teams went to brickery. Game Two was fun for the Curry explosion, but the fourth was drama-free, and it just felt like the Thunder were OK with not winning both road games. This game was garbage time for more than it was close, and dammit, we're already maybe more than halfway done, and we haven't really had a great game yet. And I need great games from this series, because we've only got from eight to fifteen basketball games from now until Halloween. That's not enough hoop left for drama free blowouts. And if OKC finished the job, we also might have way too much aid and comfort for the Things Were Better In My Day fogies, who will feel like the Dubs' temerity in ending the Bulls' record is causing Bad Juju in the playoffs.

To which I say, with all sincerity and charity... go soak your head. Honestly. You really had that much of a problem with a team making you pay attention to the regular season? I get that Green can be kind of annoying, but are you really ready to declare the Dubs a heel squad that you are rooting against just because lots of people like them now?

And this, finally, to the Warriors and Thunder: can you guys arrange to both show up for the same game for the rest of the series? I feel like we're missing a whale of a series due to scheduling problems.

That will, hopefully, be worked out by Tuesday night...

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