The last, and quite likely worst, 'Keys to the NBA Finals'

The last, and quite likely worst, 'Keys to the NBA Finals'

Don’t give up yet, kids, we’re almost there. I know it seems like a hundred years since the Western Conference Finals ended – largely because it has been – but there is actually a new game on the horizon. Finish that last water bottle (with the worm on the bottom; you’re not fooling us with that body-is-a-temple hydration scam) and march forward.

The Finals are finally upon us.

And while there is nothing left on the pregame bone upon which to chew (the price we all pay for excellent finalists and the needs of network executives), there is still the beast to fill. The glorious and agonizing pasts have been re-plowed, the metrics (or as people fluent in simple English say, numbers) have been bent behind their tensile strength, the video analysis has been reduced to dying pixels, and the predictions (almost all of them running the gamut from Warriors in 4 to Warriors in 5) have come and gone with nobody remembering any of them.

In short, there’s nothing left. Well, except this – the last and quite likely worst Keys To The Series.

DRAYMOND GREEN vs. DRAYMOND GREEN’S FACE: There are few more expressive players in the league, and fewer still who do aggrieved better than he does. That said, he knows what is at stake if he allows the moment to bring on the red mist that cost him Game 5 of the Finals and replaced with a reputation. The officials made a great show of early season re-education attempts, but the most enduring memory of the season is of him walking the length of the court to remonstrate with Scott Foster and Foster choosing not to T him up, which he would well have been within the rights of conventional behavior to do. Maybe they’ve all reached détente and Green won’t end up with Rasheed Wallace’s M.O. for disputatiousness.

THE OFFICIATING CONSPIRACIES: Speaking of which, as we know from reading Twitter, the leading source of truth for Wingnut America, every NBA game since 1977 has been fixed by gamblers or the league office, usually through officials who apparently can be bought off with a bag of Tootsie Roll Pops. So here’s what you need to know:

Cleveland is 7-0 this year with Mike Callahan and 3-5 with Monty McCutchen, and Golden State is 7-0 with Foster and 7-3 with Ken Mauer. None of this is of any use to you, but it’s important to note that Mendy Rudolph ain’t walking through that door. Whatever the hell that means.

LAS VEGAS UNCHAINED: Some books have already released odds for the 2018 Finals, and – yes, you guessed it – it’s Warriors followed by Cavaliers again. In other words, you’re being asked to bet on next year’s championship before this year’s championship, and if that isn’t a cry for help, it’s at least a cry for a cricket bat across the throat.

This breaks the old record of looking ahead from the current 344 days (since the end of Game 7 last year), a record for luring degenerates that rivals the books that put out opening NFL lines the day after the 2017 schedule was released.

OAKLAND – CRADLE OF MIGRAINES: This is not about Steve Kerr necessarily, but it has been noticed that he is the second most successful coach in NBA history by winning percentage (.804 including playoffs) behind only Not Steve Kerr (.925). His own record is 201-49, which means we completely overlooked the wins in Games 1 and 2 over Portland as milestones.

That said, the post-mothership history is daunting. Luke Walton, who was 39-4 with Kerr looking over his shoulder last year, got the job of his dreams in Los Angeles, got a bad team and a massive front office upheaval, and now he’s likely to get LaVar Ball as a freelance consultant. Alvin Gentry, the 2015 assistant who took the New Orleans job, ended up with 30- and 34-win teams and DeMarcus Cousins. And Mike Brown (10-0 and running), whose nightmares in Cleveland and Los Angeles are things of reputation-denting legend, is on the verge of being sponsored for new bad jobs. In short, it’s like the old saying, “The grass is always full of scorpions on the other side of the fence.”

JONES v. JONES: How did we all miss the Dahntay Jones-Damian Jones matchup? Because we stink, that’s why. Nevertheless, in a battle of DNP-CDs, I know the Cavs’ Jones (Dahntay) is only making $9,127 this year (courtesy Spotrac), and that isn’t a typo, so at least we know he will sit hungrier than the Warriors’ Jones (Damian).

THE JACKSON-VAN GUNDY SCALE: A televised game’s inherent entertainment value has an inverse relationship to the amount of time spent by Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy arguing on topics like dessert toppings, check-ducking in restaurants, rules complaints, dress shoes v. sneakers in church, whether Jinder Mahal will be a better WWE champion than Randy Orton, throwing dead, pre-flattened and perfumed seafood on the ice as opposed to throwing it on the floor, and the underrated worth of a really top-quality goat. In short, if they’re bored, chances are you will be too.

PARKING LOT WARS: The Warriors are 13-3 when sharing the Coliseum parking lot with the Athletics, while the Cavaliers are a mere 9-3 when doing so with the lots near the Q and Progressive Field. Game-changing ingress-egress issues seem to be a wash here, but Games 2, 4, 6 and 7 are clearly in play.

NARRATIVE WARS: Which will be adjudicated now. LeBron James is not better than Michael Jordan – yet. The Warriors are not the best team ever – yet. If you think you have something new to say, shut up and remember that you don’t (and yeah, the parking lot thing is all mine). Oh, and if you say the word “legacy” during the next two weeks and change, you ought to be jailed and given all the time Neil DeGrasse Tyson can imagine.

There. Now we can all stop worrying about what we’re going to see and finally get around to seeing it. There are finally games coming. Sit back, watch, enjoy, and work really hard not to play smartest-kid-in-the-room – for once. Not everything has to be a matchup debate. Except of course this.

What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'


What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'

The Warriors were the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

That is probably going to change this season, as they trail the Rockets by three games (although it's really four because Houston has the tiebreaker) with 12 games to play (and only lead the Raptors by one game).

What does owner Joe Lacob think about his team right now?

“We’ve had our best team we’ve ever had this year,” Lacob recently told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group (read the full story here). “We have to go prove it on the court, but we have enough to win it.

"It doesn’t mean we will, but we are certainly set up to have the opportunity potentially to do that. That’s about all you can ask.”

Things can change in an instant and Lacob understands that.

That's why he's constantly discussing scenarios with Warriors GM Bob Myers and the rest of Golden State's decision-makers.

“We’ll build around that core until we decide maybe we shouldn’t," Lacob told BANG. "But right now it feels pretty good. These guys are all performing at a great level. We love them as part of our organization.

"I don’t really see doing anything major. But you never really know. We have to evaluate when the season is over. It’s very hard when you’re in the middle of it all to see it objectively.”

What happens if the Warriors don't win the championship this year?

We will leave you with this quote Lacob gave BANG.

“Maybe we will emphasize continuity. Or maybe we will make a big move. We’re looking at different options, given different things playing out in different ways.

"I think you should always be doing that.”

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Pat McCaw will return vs Spurs; Draymond Green vs LaMarcus Aldridge


Pat McCaw will return vs Spurs; Draymond Green vs LaMarcus Aldridge

In 43 seasons battling the Spurs, only once have the Warriors swept a season series, a feat they will accomplish again with a victory Monday night in San Antonio.

Winning at AT&T Center will be a tough task for the depleted Warriors (53-17), who for the third consecutive game will take the floor with three of their four All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson -- unavailable. Guard Pat McCaw, however, will be available for the first time in five weeks.

After the Spurs (40-30) lost nine of 11 games over a 30-day span and seemed to be fading from the playoff race, they’ve posted three straight wins and are very much in the race, despite the continued absence of star forward Kawhi Leonard.


Spurs by 7


Draymond Green & Co. vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge is a load for any defender and has carried the Spurs this season. Expect the Warriors to stick to their routine when facing a single pivotal player and send a variety of defenders. Green is sure to be one of them. Others likely to take turns include Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, David West and maybe even Kevon Looney. The Warriors will consider it success if they can keep Aldridge under 30 points.


Warriors: F Omri Casspi (R ankle tweak), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) and listed as out.

Spurs: F Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3. Spurs: 5-5.


James Capers (crew chief), Bennie Adams, Karl Lane


The Warriors won the first three of four meetings this season: 112-92 on Nov. 2 in San Antonio, 122-105 on Feb. 10 in Oakland and 110-107 on March 8 at Oakland. They were 1-2 against San Antonio last season and are 9-7 against the Spurs in the Steve Kerr era.


COOK’S ROLL: Two-way PG Quinn Cook was terrific in the last two games, scoring a combined 53 points on 21-of-30 shooting. That was against lottery teams. The Spurs traditionally make life tough for guards and will pose a much bigger challenge. If Cook stays hot under this pressure, the Warriors will be beyond ecstatic.

MCCAW RETURNS: The return of McCaw, out since Feb. 12 with a L wrist fracture, gives the Warriors a fourth guard and some welcome flexibility. Cook played 80 minutes in the recent back-to-back set, and Nick Young played 78. McCaw will be on a minutes restriction (less than 20) but can perform on or off the ball.

THE BENCH GAME: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has virtually trademarked liberal usage of reserves; only San Antonio has had eight players score in double figures in three different games this season, and 13 different Spurs average at least 10 ppg. Their depth will be a problem for these very thin Warriors.