Warriors

The drunken fantasy of speculative LeBron to Warriors rumors

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USATSI

The drunken fantasy of speculative LeBron to Warriors rumors

Sometimes I hate us as much as you hate us. Us, being the Amalgamated Sports Fantasists Of North America.
 
ESPN’s Chris Haynes, who is good at his job (I need to point that just so you don’t decide otherwise based on this) reported through the ubiquitous “league sources” that the Golden State Warriors COULD create a max salary slot in hopes of acquiring James.
 
Yes they could. If they’ve decided to destroy themselves on a bar bet.
 
To do so, of course, they would have to inherit a player on the back end of a glorious career who likes to run things and doesn’t do well with authority (like Dan Gilbert, just to name one), and do so while getting rid of Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and/or Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston, plus house the rest of their roster with minimum salaries, and convince Kevin Durant to take another pay cut. Then they’d have to convince James’ people to take a meeting with them, which would happen because the Warriors have such an exemplary front office and culture.
 
This, then, is idiocy of the first magnitude, something that Joe Lacob and Bob Myers should consider only if they have conspired to have their brains replaced by turnips. In fact, it sounds like an editor (and/or producer) having an idea that should have died a hideous death somewhere between cerebrum and larynx.
 
The story, which Haynes makes clear is entirely speculative, merely says it could happen, which is not really a standard as much as it is a drunken fantasy – a closing time drunken fantasy. But the Warriors would have to tear down one of the truly special teams in American sports history while using it as bait to get someone who would radically change that culture.
 
Haynes covers that with his second paragraph: “There is no indication that Golden State is evaluating such options to acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time.”
 
There is no indication of that because the Warriors are not actually a pack of self-destructive morons. They used to be – hell, they used to be the poster for it – but those days are, at least temporarily, over.
 
Even the act of considering this as something other than an act of insanity would end the franchise as we understand it. The Warriors would consider nearly anything for, say, Anthony Davis, though it is hard to imagine them undercutting Durant to do so. But James is such a radical change from all the things they hold dear – namely, collaboration through minimal agenda-mongering – that even holding such a meeting would serve as sufficient damage.
 
It isn’t that James shouldn’t be coveted, even by the Warriors. But coveting also takes place in the mind, which is where such a notion would surely stop. The Warriors truly are the one team that could not use James and all that having him entails. They are making their stand with the best amalgamation of talent since the ‘80s Celtics and Lakers, and by all accounts they have resisted the lure of the pecking order. That would all die in one fell swoop.
 
And if so, the Warriors would stop being worth its army of acolytes caring about. Having LeBron James would be about acquisition for acquisition’s sake, and while it makes for fun speculation at 1:30 a.m. between beers 13 and 14, it is also why we hate us.
 
And why we are right to do so.

How much better will Warriors be in Game 3 as they seek redemption vs Rockets?

How much better will Warriors be in Game 3 as they seek redemption vs Rockets?

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson says the ball movement will improve. Draymond Green says the defense will be better. Steve Kerr says the Warriors will be sharper.

Those are the goals Sunday afternoon, when the defending champions face the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Tipoff at Oracle Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

The Warriors are coming off a disappointing performance in Game 2 that resulted in a 22-point defeat that allowed the Rockets to tie the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni and Kerr have spent the past three days talking up the need for defense and effort -- or “force” -- saying those factors will dictate the outcome. The Warriors had the edge in Game 1, but the Rockets had it in Game 2.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Thompson expects to get the bulk of the minutes against Harden, who through the first two games sought to manipulate the defense in search of a favorable matchup, usually targeting Stephen Curry. The Warriors say they’ve made a few tweaks to their defense, stressing the need to stay in front of the ball-handler. Thompson, when engaged, is good at this. He says he’s eager to “redeem” himself after the Game 2 loss.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries reported.

GAME OFFICIALS

Marc Davis (crew chief), Sean Corbin, Jason Phillips, Bill Spooner (alternate)

THE TALLY

Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing 116-108 on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

WARRIORS D: The Warriors were completely out of sorts on defense in Game 2, paving a path through which Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza combined to score 68 points. After three days reviewing the video and taking corrective steps, the Warriors should be appreciably better.

STEPH TOWN: Stephen Curry’s 3-ball has been stubborn about going in. Despite going 2-of-13 over the first two games, he says he’s fine. This much we know: Curry’s shooting numbers historically are better at home, where the crowd hangs on his every shot. He’ll fire early and maybe often, looking for his rhythm.

CP3 PLAYING HURT: After playing less than four minutes of the fourth quarter in Game 2, Chris Paul limped off the court with an ice bag strapped to his lower left leg. Whether it’s a calf, an Achilles, an ankle or a foot, the Rockets aren’t saying. Expect the Warriors to test Paul early to get a feel for his mobility.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)

Back with homecourt advantage, Warriors ready to rock with Roarale crowd against Rockets

Back with homecourt advantage, Warriors ready to rock with Roarale crowd against Rockets

OAKLAND -- Entering the postseason without the No. 1 overall seed for the first time under Steve Kerr, the Warriors claimed this new challenge, coming after bouts of tedium in the regular season, might be beneficial.

So they shrugged it off, saying that earning homecourt advantage throughout was, for this particular postseason, not the priority.

After splitting Games 1 and 2 against the Rockets in Houston, the Warriors now have it for the duration of their postseason run, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday. The defending champs can’t be dethroned unless a team wins at least one game at Oracle Arena.

Can the Warriors make that as difficult for opponents as it once was?

They seem to believe they can, and Kerr points to Curry as one of the reasons.

“Steph and Oracle, it’s a good combination,” he said.

Once that comment was relayed to him, Curry took it a step further.

The Warriors at Oracle are different,” he said.

The numbers, at least this season, serve to support Kerr more than Curry. His numbers, almost across the board, were slightly better at home. His scoring and assist averages were roughly the same, but all of his shooting percentages ticked upward while his turnover totals went down.

Oracle may be the remedy Curry needs. And if so, he may have to bring his teammates along.

After three seasons relative invincibility at home, the Warriors this season lost that sense of superiority. Following home records of 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over Kerr’s first three seasons, they were 29-12, exactly the same as on the road. Home losses to such sub-mediocre teams as Detroit and Charlotte and Sacramento (twice!) have a way of stripping away any and all edge.

Dropping home games to vastly inferior teams -- even if those teams are healthier -- are more the result of regular-season boredom than a sudden seismic shift. The playoffs are a different monster, and the Warriors know it.

The Warriors are 6-0 at home in these playoffs, with an average win margin of 13.3 points. They were 9-0 at home in the 2017 postseason, with an average margin of 16.9 points. Their 15-game win streak in home playoff games is a franchise record and ties them with the Bulls teams of the early 1990s for the NBA record.

“We have better pace at home,” Kerr said. “We just do. I don’t know why. It seems to be a universal dynamic in basketball. The home team generally gets a little more edge, a little more energy from the crowd and plays a little faster. And the way we play, that seems to be accentuated.”

Those are among the reasons the Warriors are solid favorites for Game 3. They want to make amends for the unbecoming effort displayed in Game 2, but the postseason atmosphere at Oracle is special.

“The crowd helps a lot, helps a ton,” Klay Thompson said.

“We all love playing in front of our home crowd,” Curry said. “If we had a choice of where you want to play, we’d choose Oracle every day of the week.

“We’ve always talked about... even when we start a series out at home, you start off well and go on the road and maybe split. When you come home for that Game 5, it’s not just showing up at home that means you’re going to walk into a win. You’ve got to have the right execution and the right mindset going in to allow the crowd to be into it, to allow the fireworks to start.”

The Warriors, it could be said, owe the Rockets one. It was Houston that came into Oracle on opening night, roughly seven months ago, and spoiled the evening on which the Warriors received their championship rings.

The Rockets not only won but did so in perhaps the most impressive way possible, falling behind by 13 entering the fourth quarter and then chasing down the Warriors. That kind of meltdown doesn’t happen to team that owns its house.

If the Warriors still own their house, it’ll become apparent in Game 3. They didn’t seek homecourt advantage, but now they have it. As much as they earned it, it’s only as valuable as they make it.

 

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)