Warriors, Cavs will be remembered for final seven games, not first eight

Warriors, Cavs will be remembered for final seven games, not first eight

And now, to sound like every six-year-old in history, “When is Christmas?”

Well, Christmas is still June 1, as it has been seemingly since this NBA season started. It is the day The Finals begin, and it still looks the same way – like Dubs-Cavs 3: The Reckoning.

Golden State did Monday as Cleveland did Sunday – sweep its second consecutive pretender to the throne, in this case the Utah Jazz, 121-95. The game was nail-bitey only because Utah did not lie down and humbly accept its evisceration after a miserable start, which is pretty much how the series played out. Utah won far more admiration for its obstinacy than a team that led for only 11 minutes in an entire series, but obstinacy alone isn’t enough.

Ask any Memphis Grizzly.

The Warriors and Cavaliers are the second pair of teams to win their first two series in sweeps in the same year since Detroit (Boston and Milwaukee) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Portland and Seattle) in 1989. In fact, the Lakers swept their next series as well, against Phoenix, before getting swept by the Pistons, so there’s your momentum lecture right there.

Beyond that, there was nothing particularly unusual about the Warriors’ eighth consecutive playoff victory. Chastened by their mildly irksome performance in Game 3 of this now-extinguished Western Conference semifinal, they grabbed a quick lead, widened it and by the end of the first quarter made it so large that the Jazz could not alter their fate no matter how hard they tried.

In other words, they came, they saw, they took a knee. As expected. As the Portlands did before them.

And now the Warriors wait again, perhaps as many as nine more days if Houston and San Antonio take each other to seven games as the Jazz did with the Los Angeles Clippers.

That’s a game every four days for more than a month, and if you use the R-word (rust), you’re probably just an inevitability denier. And no, one should not infer from that last phrase that I believe Dubs-Cavs 3.0 is inevitable. I do infer that it is the only Final anyone outside the tight NBA circle will accept.

The box score Monday night explains anything you needed explaining from Saturday night. Stephen Curry became the night’s Kevin Durant just as Durant because Saturday’s Curry. Draymond Green did the things Draymond Green (17/10/11 in 35 minutes) does better than anyone else, and the Warriors simply eroded Utah’s will to stay alive. For the series, the Jazz held the lead for 11 minutes (plus 10 seconds; let’s not cheat the lads) in Game 3, and those 11 minutes are the only minutes the Warriors have trailed in the last five games.

That statistic is really useful as soon as the NBA goes to a lap money system. Until then, the task for the nation is to accept that these playoffs have been a triumph of the undercards while the two acknowledged heavyweights plow through their tasks with sub-optimal resistance. Utah won hearts and minds but lost every game by double digits; Golden State has won seven of their eight games by 10 or more. In the meantime, Indiana gave Cleveland the hardest time mathematically speaking of any series loser,

Being swept by a total of 14 points.

And what that means as the nation awaits the two conference finals is . . . nothing, really. Golden State measures itself by Cleveland and Cleveland by Golden State, and history measures them against each other. After all, they have both won exactly as many championships as the Seattle SuperSonics, Rochester Royals, Syracuse Nationals and St. Louis Hawks, just to name four defunct franchises, but they are acknowledged as the titans in a land of average-sized folks.

That is, unless we have lost sight of the fact that Houston and Boston and San Antonio and Washington are better than Toronto and Utah, and better than Indiana and Portland.  And that the only team to win three consecutive series by sweeps and that no parade route shall be booked before its time. The winner will be remembered for the last seven games more than the first eight, and the loser will be chastened to learn that the team they fell to is a frightful machine.

If that’s your idea of a good time, and you won’t know that until the middle of June. Someone’s patience will be rewarded, but for now, resistance seems to be futile. Ad Christmas isn't even here yet.

Warriors vs. Nuggets: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

NBC Sports Bay Area

Warriors vs. Nuggets: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

The Warriors carry their four-game winning streak into a road matchup with the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night, with first place in the West on the line.

Golden State (29-14) has been playing some of their best basketball of the season as of late, as a victory against the Nuggets would give the Warriors their second-longest winning streak of the year, and first of at least five games since the beginning of November.

Denver (29-13) has been arguably the biggest surprise in the NBA this season, as they've withstood numerous significant injuries while maintaining the top record in the Western Conference. They defeated the Warriors in their only prior matchup this season, a 100-98 Nuggets victory in the third game of the 2018-19 campaign.

Here's how you can watch Warriors-Nuggetss, as well as NBC Sports Bay Area's pregame and postgame coverage, live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app. 

When: 6:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, Jan. 13 (pregame coverage starts at 5:00 p.m.)
TV channel: NBC Sports Bay Area
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app

Desktop users can stream the game by clicking this link.

Warriors 10-Year Challenge: Remembering Golden State's 2008-09 season

NBC Sports Bay Area

Warriors 10-Year Challenge: Remembering Golden State's 2008-09 season

A lot can change in a decade. Just ask the Warriors.

The 10-Year Challenge has been making the rounds on social media as of late, so it's a fitting time to look back on just how far the Dubs have come in the last decade. After all, prior to the current six-year streak of making the playoffs, the Warriors were known far more for their chronic dysfunction than they were for their dominance of the league.

The 2008-09 season marked the last one in which Steph Curry was starring at Davidson, and obviously, Curry's arrival drastically altered the trajectory of the franchise -- in due time.

Before his arrival, well, things were pretty bleak.

The 2008-09 Warriors went 29-53. For comparison, the 2018-19 Warriors are currently 29-14 and have a chance to re-take the No. 1 seed in the West Tuesday vs. Denver.

The 2008-09 Warriors got started off on the wrong foot -- or ankle, rather -- before the season even began.

Monta Ellis seriously injured his ankle in an offseason moped accident. Then he lied about it to the team. Then the Warriors suspended him for 30 games without pay.

Ellis didn't make his first appearance of the season until Jan. 23, a game the Warriors would ultimately lose to the Cavaliers on a LeBron James buzzer-beater to drop to 13-31 on the season.

Current Warriors analyst Kelenna Azubuike -- who appeared in 74 games and averaged 14.4 points per contest for those '08-'09 Warriors -- told NBC Sports Bay Area that his experience then has helped him put the more recent Warriors' accomplishments in proper perspective.

"I know how hard it is to have a good winning season, not to talk about as many as the Warriors have had in a row ... Obviously they're more talented than we were, but it's not just about talent.

"There was less room for error with us. Because if we didn't bring it, we were gonna get destroyed."

Stephen Jackson was the unquestioned alpha on the team, and led Golden State with an average of 20.1 points per contest in 59 games played. Current Phoenix Suns guard Jamal Crawford ranked second in scoring on that Warriors team, with an average of 19.7 points per game.

Center Andris Biedrins had arguably the best season of his career, averaging 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds, shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 55.1 percent from the free throw line. He never shot better than 32.3 percent from the charity stripe in any future season.

Brandan Wright appeared in 39 games in his sophomore season, before missing the entire next year with a shoulder injury. Two Anthony's -- Randolph and Morrow -- offered the latest reasons for optimism.

The Warriors ultimately lost four of their final five games -- including the last two -- to finish the 2008-09 season with the seventh-worst record in the league at 29-53.

[RELATED: Why Steph Curry doesn't have his Davidson jersey retired]

That meant Golden State would be slotted seventh going into the lottery, a spot they maintained into the draft itself.

On June 25, 2009, the Warriors selected a skinny, sweet-shooting guard out of Davidson College with the seventh overall pick of the NBA draft.

"Everybody was aware of what he was doing at Davidson," Azubuike said of Curry. "We definitely knew about him and knew how exciting his game was. 

"So it was pretty cool when we got him, and then he just kind of took off from there. As soon as he got there, his work ethic was off the charts. And he was such a good dude."

10 years later, a whole lot has changed.