2015 Warriors Playoffs – StephVP

StephVP

Photo via CBS Sports

Game one shouldn’t have been so easy and if Mike Conley is available, the rest of the series probably won’t be.

I will admit to being quite surprised how easily the Warriors handled the Grizzlies on Sunday. But it was really a tale of two games.

In the first half, both teams ran up and down the court, scoring at a high pace. In the second half, the Warriors turned up the defensive intensity to go along with the Grizzlies fatigue of having to try and keep pace.

I thought Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were exceptional offensively. Collectively, they were 14-25 shooting and Gasol himself was 11-12 from the free throw line. But the Warriors seemed fine trading buckets with the team knowing that they’d have more three-point opportunities and also knowing that by the 4th quarter, Gasol and Randolph would be exhausted having to carry the team offensively.

While Randolph and Gasol have clear advantages in the post, defensively, they were negated. Randolph didn’t come out and chase Draymond Green around the perimeter and Green went 4-8 from three-point land.

The Warriors’ advantages are in their backcourt, especially with Mike Conley out because of injury. Rather than start Beno Udrih, the Grizzlies started shooting guard Nick Calathes against Stephen Curry. Calathes did a good job chasing Curry around the perimeter early, but provided a fat zero on offense. Courtney Lee played 36 minutes and his line was just 9/2/2.

The Warriors didn’t play their best, but they were able to go nine deep with Bogut only playing 24 minutes because of foul trouble. The Warriors’ bench units kept the game even, or even better than even at times in their stints and if they do that, the Warriors are going to win most games.

Mike Conley is the key for the Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies come out in game two with a similar lineup, unless the Warriors get in extreme foul trouble, it’s hard to see a different outcome. But if Conley plays, giving Gasol and Randolph some help offensively, they can definitely close the gap. If they have to wait for game three to get him back, they’re going to have an uphill battle.

After the game, the rumor was that Curry was going to win the league’s MVP Award. When I was a young Warriors fan, I’d have been happy if a Warriors’ player sniffed a third place vote for the MVP Award, let alone win it.

Earlier today, it was announced that he won the award. As a player, he’s a delight to watch. As a person (or at least the perception of him outside the court), he seems to be even better. I’m not one who puts a lot of stock in players off the court because much of their persona is crafted by a public relations person. Just think of the surprise most felt when Tiger Woods’ true lifestyle was uncovered.

I tell my kids to never think of athletes as role models. In the day and age when the best, richest, and most famous boxer has several documented accounts of domestic violence, and because of social media, everyone’s flaw is uncovered, it’s even more important to parent that way.

I was told the same thing at an early age and it was very easy for me to separate the athlete from the person. I didn’t know the person anyway.

But right now, I’m comfortable telling my kids to listen to what Curry says and to see how he incorporates his family and his teammates into his story. He also incorporates his faith.

In accepting his MVP Award, he made sure every single one of his teammates was acknowledged. He made sure the equipment manager was accounted for. He told stories about his little brother and sister, his wife, his dad, his mom, and his even his grandmother who couldn’t be there.

(And the only time his voice cracked was when he talked about his pops.)

It was truly great to see and Papa Dell and Mama Curry are probably still smiling as I write this.

You can watch the speech below:

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