Here's to rooting for a seven-game Western Conference Finals

Here's to rooting for a seven-game Western Conference Finals

On behalf of no Golden State Warrior fans whatsoever, I hereby root wholeheartedly for an extended and gloriously bizarre Western Conference Final.
I do not speak for anyone else here at NBCSportsBayArea, or in the Bay Area, or maybe anywhere. I may speak for the nation as a whole, but there are days when speaking for the nation seems like a lousy job, so I’m not trying to achieve that.
I do not care. I do not have a rooting interest in either team because my job demands that I don’t. I know what I want, and I root for me.
So here’s what I want: Seven games between Golden State and San Antonio, and I want every one of them to be close, well-played and brain-meltingly tense. I want the Warriors to be stretched to their limit. I want the Spurs to be persistent and obstinate in their persistence. I want Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to face a buzzsaw, and I want Kawhi Leonard (to heal first, then to play all seven games) and Manu Ginobili and Danny Green and Patty Mills and Pau Gasol to face one too.
I want the sport elevated to its zenith, and dammit, these playoffs have not been that.
Now, it is not the job of either team to concern itself with that. Their collective task is to win as quickly as possible, get nobody hurt, heal those who are, and prep for The Finals. There are no style points for routs like Thursday’s, and I care not for talking points at the expense of my enjoyment.
We have not had the Spurs and Warriors in a postseason series at their zeniths, and I think we’ve got that coming. Oh, and if you’re somehow concerned that the winner be worn out for The Finals, I hope Cleveland and Bos-Wash have the same issue.
I don’t want arguments about who was luckier, who got the benefit of the hinky call or the egregious groining. I want a barn-burning, and I want to remember this series forever, or until one of my loved ones has decided enough is enough and given me the weighted pillow and burlap goodbye I so richly deserve.
I know this isn’t the way to bet, especially if Leonard cannot play. Beating the Bizarro-World Rockets by 39 (or as I originally typed with what may have been divine inspiration, 389) points without him is a remarkable feat, but the Spurs do not enter this series as anything but near-prohibitive underdogs. Everyone who lives to predict such things believes the Warriors will either win comfortably or by dope-slap, and maybe that means by an average score of 121-97 over four games.
But it’s okay for them to be wrong, dead wrong. I aim for loftier goals.
Now just so we understand each other, you as a citizen, a citizen-to-be, a legal or illegal alien, or just a member of the Homo Sapiens For Good Or Ill Club can want what you want. If you need the Warriors to win in four, pray to whatever being you find handy and go for it. If you need the Spurs to cheat the reaper and drop a ’69 Mets or ’16 Leicester City, good on all your fathers. If you want the Cavaliers, Celtics or Wizards (who should still be the Bullets), enjoy your free will and ability to choose independently.
But this is what I want, and I’m the one who gets to fill this space – mostly because I have successfully sucked up to a series of bosses who probably should have known better, and remain employed.
So Go Whomever, but Go Seven, and leave some blood on the moon in the attempt. Because you can’t always get what you want (see Warriors fans in 2016, and Cavaliers fans in 2015), but you if you try sometimes, you might get what you need.
I need this, and if Mick Jagger can’t convince you, then you are a nihilist, and I don’t like you any more.
In fairness, I won’t like you any less, either, because you can’t go lower than zero. But let me put it this way: If I get seven great games, I will pretend to be sympathetic to the involuntary twitch that develops in your face as the series I want plows forward.
So in summation, Let’s Go Me. And whoever else happens to make what I want happen at the time I need it to happen.
And you can’t get a fairer deal than that.

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'


Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'

The Cavaliers are going to be without head coach Tyronn Lue indefinitely.

On Monday morning, Lue issued the following statement through the team:

"After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization's support throughout."

Lue has had to leave multiple games early this season due to his health.

Get well, Tyronn.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.