From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy plans to start a pair of 16-game winners in the first two games of the National League division series. After that, he says he's not sure what he'll do.Matt Cain will pitch Game 1 against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday and left-hander Madison Bumgarner will go in Game 2 on Sunday. The two tied for the team lead in victories and were instrumental down the stretch when San Francisco won the NL West for the second time in three years.Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and 15-game winner Barry Zito have also been key for the Giants. But Bochy said Thursday he's unsure whether he'll use the two in starting roles or out of the bullpen. That goes for Ryan Vogelsong as well."More than anything it's really vital for us to have all hands on deck here the first two games," Bochy said in explaining his reluctance to name a Game 3 starter. "If we want to use some guys in the rotation early here, then we'll do that. We wanted to keep our options open."The uncertainty over the back end of the rotation might seem strange given that starting pitchers are creatures of habit and generally stay on a carefully mapped out throwing routine in between starts.Zito, who was left off the Giants postseason roster entirely two years ago when the franchise won its first World Series title since 1954, doesn't think that will be an issue.The 34-year-old left-hander has started 172 games and made six relief appearances since signing a 126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season."I've (come) out of the bullpen many times as a starter here," Zito said. "A lot of the other guys have done that, too. You change your routine going into it. You can't be stupid about it. Other than that, if you're on the mound you're on the mound."The Giants gathered for a voluntary workout at AT&T Park and players took batting practice while Bumgarner threw a bullpen session as stadium workers hurried to get the stadium ready for Saturday's Game 1. Truckloads of merchandise arrived throughout the afternoon and red, white and blue bunting was hung around the waterfront ballpark.Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was a surprise visitor to the workout.Baker, the former Giants skipper who recently rejoined the Reds after missing 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat, stood behind the batting cage and joked with current San Francisco scout Felipe Alou -- who replaced Baker as manager.If Baker hoped to get an insight as to what the Giants plans are for their rotation, he was disappointed.Cain, the NL starter in the All-Star game who earlier this season pitched the first perfect game in franchise history, was an easy call for Game 1. Likewise with Bumgarner, the 23-year-old who was second on the team in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched."You look at the years that Matt and Madison have had, that's why they're going Game 1 and Game 2," Bochy said. "We feel like these two have earned these starts and that's why they're out there."The rest of the rotation is unclear for various reasons.Zito was one of San Francisco's top pitchers down the stretch to finish with his best season yet since the 2002 AL Cy Young Award joined the Giants. He won his last five starts and seven decisions in the regular season, and hasn't lost since Aug. 2.More critically for San Francisco, the Giants went 11-0 after Aug. 6 with Zito on the mound. That's vastly different from 2010 when he won only one game over the final two months."I'm just happy to be here," Zito said. "Happy to be here, happy to be on the roster, happy to be having fun playing baseball right now. Everything else is gravy."Lincecum, the Giants former ace who lost 10 of his first 13 decisions this season, rebounded well but still finished with a career-high 15 losses.The question for Bochy is whether to keep Lincecum in the rotation or put him the bullpen two years after the right-hander pitched the Giants past the Rangers in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas.Vogelsong, 35, would seem the most likely of the three to go to the bullpen. He struggled over the final seven weeks of the season when he had a 6.75 ERA over his final 10 starts."We may use Timmy in the pen, we may use Vogelsong in the pen or Zito," Bochy said. "They'll know exactly what's going on. We'll make sure that they're ready. That's right now what we think is the best way to about it."
Following Toronto's 127-125 loss to the Warriors on Saturday night, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan wasn't happy.
His team had almost erased a 27-point deficit and he felt like the officials were helping the Warriors.
"It's frustrating being out there feeling like you're playing 5-on-8. Some of those calls were terrible, period," DeRozan told reporters after the game.
As you might imagine, the NBA wasn't thrilled with thoses comments and fined DeRozan $15,000 on Tuesday for public criticism of the officiating.
DeRozan's incident is the latest in a long list of greivances between the players and the officials. The two sides met face-to-face in late December and plan to meet again during All-Star weekend in February to discuss the growing tension.
Earlier we discussed how the Golden State Warriors have seemingly moved beyond hating on NBA officials (three technical fouls in 18 days is a stunning reversal of their formerly disputatious form), but we may have forgotten one new reason why they have found a more Buddhist approach to the cutthroat world of American competitive sport.
They lack someone new to hate.
Their much-chewed-upon rivalry with the Los Angeles Clippers actually lasted two years, and now the Clippers are busy trying to prevent military incursions into their locker room from the Houston Rockets. Their even more famous archrivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers seems to be imploding – with the total connivance of the Cavs themselves – before our eyes. Even cutting off their hot water made them laugh when two years ago not letting the Warriors' wives get to the game on time torqued them mightily.
And since we know that you locals desperately need a bête noire for your heroes (even though their biggest foe is actually their own attention spans), let us consider the new candidates.
The Rockets have been among the Warriors’ most persistent contender/pretenders, having faced them in both the first round of the 2017 postseason and the conference finals in 2015. Both ended in 4-1 Warrior wins as part of a greater piece – Golden State is 19-4 against the Rockets in the Warriors’ bad-ass era, 10-2 at home and 9-2 on the road, and has finished an aggregate 59.5 games ahead of the Rockets in the past three and a half years.
Hateable players for Warrior fans include James Harden and Chris Paul, while Rockets fans loathe Draymond Green and Kevin Durant and work their way down from there.
RIVALRY RATING (out of 32,353): 19. The Rockets need to win a playoff series before even matching the Clippers, who as we all know came and went in a moment.
The previous platinum standard in Western Conference basketball, the Spurs have never really gone away, though they have aged. Their pedigree is not in dispute, and Steve Kerr has essentially become the next generation of Gregg Popovich. It is hard to create a rivalry out of such shamelessly mutual admiration.
Hateable players for Warrior fans include . . . uhh, maybe Kawhi Leonard for winning two Defensive Player Of The Year Awards instead of Draymond Green, though that’s not much to go on, frankly. Spurs fans hate Zaza Pachulia for stepping beneath Leonard and ending last year’s series before it started.
RIVALRY RATING (out of 23): 1. If they didn’t have to play against each other, I suspect these two teams would date.
The Thunder’s 3-1 collapse in 2016 is all but ignored now because the Warriors did the same thing one series later, but lifting Kevin Durant was quite the consolation prize for Golden State, and the definitive finger in the eye for the Thunder, who turned their team over completely to Russell Westbrook, for good and ill. Even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are still trying to relocate their stride.
Hateable players for Warrior fans include Westbrook and Anthony for defining the I-need-the-ball-in-my-hands-to-function generation, and owner Clay Bennett for Seattle SuperSonics nostalgics. Thunder frans hate Durant, followed by Durant, Durant, Kim Jong-un, Durant, leprosy, Draymond Green’s foot, and Durant.
RIVALRY RATING (out of 440): 220. Westbrook is a human lightning rod, Anthony is the antithesis of what Warriors now regard basketball (they’d have loved him a quarter-century ago), and Stephen Adams for getting his goolies in the way of Green’s foot. Plus, some savvy Warrior fans can blame OKC for extending their heroes to seven games, thus making the final against Cleveland that much more difficult. This could work, at least in the short term.
Damian Lillard is a much-beloved local. Plus, the Blazers have never interfered in the Warriors’ universe save their 1-8 postseason record. There are no truly hateable players on either side, though Stephen Curry threw his first mouthpiece in Portland, and Green is a perennial.
RIVALRY RATING (out of 1): 0.
The new pretender to throne, with the Eastern Conference’s version of Kerr in Brad Stevens. Even better since taking advantage of Kyrie Irving’s weariness with LeBron James, and until proven otherwise the team the Warriors should most concern themselves with.
Hateable players for Warrior fans include Irving, who made the only shot in the last five minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, while Celtics fans hate Durant for not signing with them.
RIVALRY RATING (out of 67.7): 26, though this will rise if the two teams meet in the Finals. The last time they did, Bill Russell owned basketball.
THE REST OF THE EAST
Still too remote to adequately quantify, though Toronto, Miami and Milwaukee are clearly difficult matches for the Warriors. If you put them together, Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Hassan Whiteside with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe coming off the bench, coached by either Eric Spoelstra or Jason Kidd, would make a fun team for the Warriors to play against. Probably not functional, but fun.
Some decade the two teams’ geographical proximity will matter, but for now, they remain essentially two full professional leagues away from each other. We just mentioned them so Kings fans wouldn’t feel any more slighted than they already do.