Ray Ratto

The flaw in Draymond Green's referee suggestion is obvious

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AP

The flaw in Draymond Green's referee suggestion is obvious

Draymond Green could be the next supervisor of NBA officials – of course he could. Of course, his catch phrase – “You’re fired!” – has already been taken by a far more notorious and objectionable figure.

Parsing out his suggestion, in the wake of his 11th technical foul of the season, that all the officials be fired and replaced by a whole new crop, however, belies one immutable fact.

The next 70 people brought in will almost certainly be worse than the 70 that already have gigs.

[SHILLER: Steph Curry defends Draymond Green, 'there are certain situations...']

That’s how it worked when the NBA expanded from two to three officials in 1988 – the additional officials were almost unanimously worse than the roster as it existed because the NBA didn’t hire officials 1 through 23 to join their ranks, but officials 47-70. The overall quality therefore did not rise, but lowered.

In short, Green’s suggestion is to take the first through 70th-best officials and replace them with the 71st through 140th best officials. The flaw here should be obvious.

His other complaint, that there is greater hostility between officials and players, has more merit, though he seems to modify that for purposes of his argument to “hostility from officials toward players.” Officials should be allowed greater latitude to talk with players and vice versa, and the best ones do it anyway, but Green has a habit of leading with his facial version of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” and goes from there. That approach has always failed, it fails now, and it always will.

Plus, it isn’t like he hasn’t been told by mentors and colleagues alike that his approach isn’t working for him. It took him awhile to build his rep, and even if he stopped today it would take awhile to rebuild it.

Either way, he is rapidly reaching that “I Fought The Law And The Law Won” stage of his relationship with the officiating community, and barring him asking to officiate one of the April 1 games (the Warriors play Phoenix as the second game of a back-to-back with Sacramento and can surely spare him), he seems unlikely to either change his views or have the views of him changed.

Thus, I’m guessing he will hit his quota of technicals right after the All-Star Break and miss the Los Angeles Clippers game February 22. Here’s hoping the official who brings the hammer is Courtney Kirkland, the master of the headbutt.

 

Steph Curry-led Warriors put down heaviest hammer yet in Game 3

Steph Curry-led Warriors put down heaviest hammer yet in Game 3

Stephen Curry seems sufficiently and ostentatiously cured of whatever ailed him, so after three games of the Western Conference Final the narrative chasers have to hunt down a new barking dog.

And maybe it will be “How hurt is Chris Paul?” It's hard to kill an injury narrative once it gets up to speed, and it's often easier to just reassign it.

Golden State’s whirlwind, 126-85 mega-rout of the Houston Rockets in Game 3 returned us to the aftermath of Game 1 when everyone was sure that Houston was incapable of a proportionate response...until Houston did indeed respond in Game 2.

But the possibilities narrow as any series goes deeper, and the Warriors put down the heaviest hammer yet, forcing 19 Houston turnovers, crowding an apparently limited Paul (5-for-16, 13 points in 33 minutes) and James Harden (7-of-16 for 20 in 33 minutes) as they had crowded Curry, and doing it so comprehensively that none of the other Rockets had the will or capability to help ease the pain. The 41-point win was the largest in Warriors’ postseason history, and conversely the defeat was the most lopsided in Rockets’ postseason history.

And Game 4 is still in Oakland. And Curry is whole again, dancing again, and has his oppressor’s soul again.

He started slowly as though all his injuries had united as one to break his spirit, and the Rockets had seemingly figured out how to exploit those wounds and rendered him a liability. He missed eight of his first ten shots and six of his first seven threes, and was 3-for-20 from three in the first 109 quarters of this series. You could imagine climbing inside the skull of Oracle Arena and hear it think, “Can the Warriors win this series without Curry’s help at all?”

And then he slapped sense back into everyone with an 18-point third quarter in which he made all seven of his shots, going boldly to the basket and thus freeing his looks from distance. He energized a crowd on the edge of paralysis and broke the Rockets’ best chance to bring the defending champions to heel.

He finished with 35, returned the joyful anticipation to his building and the conspicuous brass back into his post-score celebrations. In fact, after one such score, he chose to discuss his Wolverine-like healing powers with an appreciative audience and needed to remind himself that there was defense to be played on the ensuing possession.

In sum, he was playing to tell the world to stop talking about his shot as though it had been hit by a bus. And the world obeyed, loudly and abjectly, as it typically does with him.

“I thought he was pressing a little bit early...” head coach Steve Kerr said of Curry, “but he bounces back as well from bad games as anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen this a lot of times, so no, I wasn’t worried.”

“His three is like someone else’s dunk,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t mean to disappoint, but I’ve seen crazier from him.”

“It was frustrating that I had the right intentions, got five wide open threes and only one went in,” Curry said. “You keep searching for the right openings...saw the opening and just hit singles, like Coach likes to say.

“I’ve just been talking to myself. You have to be your biggest fan sometimes. You gotta find whatever it is to get you going, use that energy to let your teammates know you’re with ‘em. I did my job tonight, and now I have to do it again.”

Yeah. Easy as that.

Then again, it was delivered in the perfect context in a postseason that has struggled to find close games and great moments. Indeed, this was the standout game in a set of conference final games that have been remarkable for their lack of competitiveness. Only three other conference finals in league history have been decided by such a huge margin, and the average score in the six games to date has been 117-93.

And now that Stephen Curry has healed himself, the only reason to think this series could change again is if Houston has a new way to break his spirit. Historically, though, Curry is not recaptured once he breaks free of an opponents’ clutches, so it may very well be that this series was crushed for good Sunday night, and the only thing left for anyone to see is Curry’s smile.

The one that belies his essential ruthlessness.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Warriors held up their end and stood on the Rockets' chest in Game 1

Warriors held up their end and stood on the Rockets' chest in Game 1

The worst thing about Game 1 of any series is that people think it foretells the future, but that’s the fault of people, not the series.

But recency bias stops becoming bias after Game 2 when Game 2 resembles Game 1, and that is the task of the Golden State Warriors Wednesday in Houston.

The Warriors spotted the Rockets eight minutes Monday night – the first eight minutes. Draymond Green got a technical for overmodulation 67 seconds and change into the game, and his teammates missed five of their first seven shots.

After that, well, you know what happened. Even the tinfoil hat brigade who thought official Scott Foster would beat the Warriors by himself because they remember an unpleasant game in Portland long ago had to surrender their conspiracy theories to reality by the early third quarter. Klay Thompson got the looks he needed, Kevin Durant didn’t even need looks, and Golden State simply efficient-ed Houston to death.

They are now 14-1 in Game 1s, 11-3 in Game 2s, 7-7 in game 3s and 8-6 in Game 4s. They are also 9-1 in Game 5, 3-1 in Game 6 and 1-1 in Game 7. What this tells us is that they win 85 percent of the time at home, typically by large margins, and can lose a bit of interest and want-to when they hit the road.

But this series is unlike all the others. They bring their ability to make an early statement to Houston, and if form holds, they will go home for Games 3 and 4 with every reason to finish this with the same ruthless efficiency.

And the only reason not to think this is how things will play out is the notion that Houston is too good to be run out of their building twice.

This idea flies in the face of the dismissive tone America took after Game 1, in which Durant, Thompson and the more quiescent Green took command when the game turned in the third quarter. The entire postseason had been framed with this as the centerpiece series, but Game 1 just sort of...well, sat there.

It reinforced the notion that the Warriors are oppressive when inspired, and that teams do not catch the Warriors as much as the Warriors allow themselves to be caught. James Harden got 41 and Chris Paul 23 and 11 rebounds, but the rest of the Rockets were hardly noticeable. That will not do if the centerpiece is to avoid being shoved aside for the green beans and yams.

In short, this series has gotten off to a poor start if drama and elite basketball is your end game. The Warriors held up their end, but in doing so stood on the Rockets’ chest. If that is the way this series is to play out, we’ll have built up a very tall building only to have it Jenga’d out in five moves, tops.