GS Warriors 2016 Playoffs – There Is No Tomorrow (Well, After Sunday)

there is no tomorrow

They’re champs for a reason.

In the Western Conference Finals, down 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, I wrote about how the Thunder were outplaying the Warriors in just about every facet of the game, but they needed to win game 5, or else they’d give the Warriors an inkling of a chance and that was all they needed.

You come at the king, you best not miss.

With the Warriors down to a winner-take-all game 7 in Oakland this Sunday, I had to put some words together again. And let’s not underestimate my reason for doing so is because it worked last time.

This series has been fascinating, but not because it’s been an excellent series. It hasn’t been a great series. That’s not to say that the play hasn’t been stellar. In many situations, it has. But the games haven’t been close enough for it to be remembered as a classic series. However, if the Cleveland Cavaliers come back from being down 2-0 and then 3-1, it will be remembered as so, even if it’s not. I can already read the headline – Bow Down To The King!

It’s been fascinating because of the runs made by each team and the drama involved in those runs. The Warriors looked like they were going to sweep the Cavs after winning the first two games. The Warriors were happy and smiling. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving put on stellar performances at home in game 3, but then the Warriors made it look easy again in game 4.

But game 4 featured LeBron and Draymond getting tangled up; LeBron with the judo style trip takedown of Draymond, Draymond trying to get up while LeBron walked over him to punk him, and then Draymond with the worst aim in the world, swiping at LeBron and hitting him close to his groin. Draymond could’ve swiped at LeBron and hit him anywhere else on his body and would’ve been fine. Just not there. If not for bad luck, Dray would have none.

Draymond LeBron

In a possible closeout game, the Warriors were now one man down and that man was the only player on their team who was on the floor in every single one of their 88 wins. And once again, LeBron and Kyrie made them pay. They were brilliant, each in their own way, as if they were trading off greatness.

What game 5 allowed the Cavs to do was swing the momentum back to their side while heading home, which is kind of like a double momentum swing. Last year, the Warriors closed out the series in Cleveland and here we were again, one year later to the exact date.

This time, LeBron James made a statement.

I won’t say that I’ve watched every single Finals game since I’ve been a fan of the NBA. But I’ve seen a lot of them. You should put his performance Thursday night up with some of the greatest finals performances of all-time.

Watching LeBron is bittersweet for me. I love watching him play. I love his pass first style. He reminds me more of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird than anyone else, and that was the NBA that I learned from. I have him very high on the list of greatest players I’ve ever seen.

LeBron is like a chess player who makes the right move every time. On the basketball court, his intention is to make the right basketball play, whether it’s a pass to set up a better pass, or a late in the clock jumper he has to take because all the other possibilities were exhausted.

When the Warriors lean one way or another, he makes them pay. Defensively, you can’t cheat.

In the first two games, Andre Iguodala played him as well as you can play him. It forced him to look for the open man a lot more and his teammates weren’t able to make the necessary shots. But in game 5, you could tell Iguodala wasn’t 100% and James was taking advantage. In game 6, with Iguodala hobbled with a back injury, James was having his way.

LeBron is a petulant child sometimes. If you don’t believe me, it’s been reported several times before. Even Team USA didn’t want him. He’s a passive aggressive bully to his own teammates. And he has this weird way of expressing himself. Take a look at his fake tough guy look after blocking Steph Curry’s shot.

That’s not who he is, so it comes off fake and premeditated rather than organic. Save for maybe some heated battles with the Boston Celtics and his hate for the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen led Celtics, LeBron hasn’t had a real rivalry. The NBA wanted to create one between he and Kobe Bryant, but neither could get to the finals when the other one was there.

So what did his snarl and trash talk (allegedly calling him little boy) mean? It means that LeBron knows that Curry is the new hotness in the NBA. He let us know that last year when he declared himself the greatest player in the league when no one asked. So is this LeBron acknowledging Curry more than anything else? Yes. But it’s also LeBron getting at someone who he knows won’t fight back. He had a mix-up with Draymond and Draymond was in his face in two-tenths of a second. He’s not snarling at Draymond. But to snarl at Steph? He knows that neither he or Steph are about that life.

It’s up to Curry to step up in game 7. Did LeBron wake up a hibernating bear? Or will Curry continue to struggle in creating his own shot? It’s partly up to how the Warriors attack, but also up to how the referees decide to call the game. If the refs “let them play” Curry is going to continue to get held on every possession. Defensively for the Warriors, that will work better for them. Draymond will be allowed to be Draymond and play his physical style. And if you can’t be physical with LeBron, it’s game over. His lobbying for calls earlier in the series was just as strategic on his end as anything else he’s done, dry snitch lobbying for Green to get suspended included.

After game 6, Steve Kerr did some lobbying of his own.

It was a Gregg Popovich manuever. Much like LeBron did earlier in the series with his complaining about calls, Kerr wants the viewing public to know that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are getting held all the time in hopes that the NBA decides to look more in their direction. If Steph or Klay get even one extra call, it will be worth the $25,000 he was fined for making the statement. LeBron plays chess on the basketball court. Kerr plays a little chess too.

As a diehard Warriors fan, (one who wrote a few thousand words about their championship last year) the feeling of them not coming through in a big game isn’t actually foreign. I generally feel that way about the Warriors. But that’s only because of the previous 30 years I’ve watched them prior to them winning the title last year. It’s a love/fight relationship with this team historically. Like Q-Tip said, “We fight, we love.”

I wasn’t happy with Curry losing his cool at the end of game six, and even worse was Klay walking off the court like a sore loser before the game was over. They are defending champions for a reason. They should act like they’ve been there and feel really good about their chances to win game 7 at home at Oracle. Instead, I saw some chinks in the armor. Does it mean anything in the long run? Probably not. But you’d rather see a super confident team, one who broke records all season long, than see one losing their cool.

But maybe Curry losing his cool was good. Maybe being silent and allowing things to happen the way they were was the wrong way to get things done. Curry hasn’t lobbied for any calls. Curry didn’t dry snitch on LeBron last night when a writer asked what LeBron told him, much like LeBron did in his lobbying to get Draymond suspended (chess move). Is it out of Curry’s character? Or is it something that needs to come out of Curry?

We’ll see on Sunday. The drama is high. The game should be excellent. And like Apollo Creed once told Rocky Balboa, there is no tomorrow (well, after Sunday)!

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