On November 5, 2014, the opposing locker room felt eminently similar to the one last night; morose, tired, and very frustrated. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers took nearly 30 minutes to come out for his customary post-game presser. When he finally escaped the aftermath of what was the beginning of a string of Golden State Warriors-dominated rivalry matchups, he had some biting words for his team.
"What we lacked was heart. If I'm tired and getting my butt kicked, I'm going to leave the game with no fouls left. To me, it was weak from our part. "
Rivers delved in and out of the blame game, both citing himself as the reason for Blake Griffin's one-rebound performance and the rest of the team for their lack of anything resembling good basketball. And almost immediately after, he shed a little more light on just how frustrated his team was after a 17-point shellacking.
"Right now, this is not the same group from last year, and it's the same group."
Go on with your mad self, Rivers. Go on.
When asked about what went on in the locker room:
"I just let them blow smoke up each other's asses because that's all they did in there, in my opinion. If you're going to talk, you've got to be real. I'm not a big fan of group meetings unless they're real group meetings. I think we're getting close with the talk today but we're not there."
The Los Angeles Clippers are fine now. They're one of the best Western Conference teams. Top-heavy, yes, but that's what really matters in the postseason and not the regular season. They are what they are at this point, which is a very good team in an asbolutely loaded Western Conference. It just so happens that when they played the Warriors at full strength, things got ugly.
Then on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, Trevor Ariza jogged downcourt, purposely jutting his shoulder out and nearly smacking Stephen Curry's face in the process. What ensued was your typical NBA kerfuffle, a bunch of gesturing and shoving culminating with Draymond Green, somehow of all people, holding everyone back. But what was more interesting was that the Rockets adapted the 2013 Denver Nugget strategy of cheap-shotting Curry in hopes of getting him frustrated and mentally and physically kicked out.
It almost worked. Except that the Warriors are emotionally led by an adrenaline and troll-fueled Draymond Green that kept hitting threes after the technical assessed to Ariza and unfurling out a brand new celebration every single time. Bent elbows penguin sprint. The bye-bye wave. The mouth-yap and scream all the way downcourt. It never ends.
As for Kevin McHale? We go to you.
"They got two points because somehow in the backcourt, Pat got thrown out and Josh (Smith) wasn't ready at halfcourt and they ran down and Curry laid it in fro the opposite free-throw line. They're fast but not that fast."
He didn't necessarily throw a player under the bus given that he referenced the entire term through the rant. James Harden, later in the locker room, told reporters that the Warriors "bullied" them in the victory. Dwight Howard wasn't having any of it, joking that the Atlanta Hawks were the best team in the entire league. After being asked why, he chuckled and said they had the best record. Apparently, frustration is an adverse condition to counting.
And to end the entire diatribe, McHale had this to say on things like intangibles and hustle:
"But I know one thing, if that ball is between you and me, and I got to get it, there's a lot of different ways to get it. And one of them is to run the other guy over. And we better start doing some of that shit."
Much of this might be overblown. The players weren't especially distraught and the coaches were probably diverting much of their team's awful performance on themselves. But it remains to be said that not only are the Warriors dismantling good teams on the road and at Oracle, they can get inside the heads of opposing teams as well. I guess it all works when Stephen Curry is hitting one-legged fadeaways and Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green combine to nasty everything else up.