I've been unbelievably busy lately, with a co-worker driving me nuts during our busiest season, a ridiculously expensive and (in my humble opinion) unnecessary custody battle, an impending move, and the memorial service of a woman who was an angel in my life.
All of those factors have kept me from writing articles as often as I would like, but there's no way I was going to miss the chance to write something for the Finals. Last week, I checked in with our GSoM writers chat group. Nate Parham had posted a spreadsheet asking for writers to slot themselves in for different duties throughout the Finals.
The first things on the docket were match-up analysis, head-to-head analysis, and positional breakdowns. All three of those things seem right up my alley, but I was pretty busy picking up the slack from my aforementioned co-worker, preparing for court, writing a eulogy, and getting ready for a trip to the Bay. Packing my house up for the move will just have to wait a few more days. I decided to leave the pre-Finals work to my esteemed colleagues here at GSoM, who never missed a beat.
Court was Thursday, and it went well. Game 1 was also Thursday, and that went well too. Much like the Warriors, I still don't know what will happen, but I like my chances moving forward.
On Friday, I flew out to the Bay to take part in a memorial service. I spent Friday night with lifelong friends, laughing and crying, sharing our loss and remembering the good times gone by. Instead of writing any postgame analysis or game 2 strategies and adjustments, I wrote a eulogy. I love the Warriors, but not as much as I love my family and friends. The other writers here, once again, would have to do the heavy lifting.
Saturday was the service, and it was beautiful. I tearfully delivered the eulogy as well as I could, and got to spend the day with old and new friends hugging, laughing, and crying. I got to connect with my best friend's two year old son, who had to test what sort of grown up I am by wiping his chocolate cake-covered fork on my arm. He found out that I'm a lot like him, preferring to have a food fight with a two year old rather than worrying about what my clothes looked like afterwards. I think Kai and I will be friends for a long time.
Still, I hadn't managed to make time for GSoM, and I really wanted to. Sunday would surely be the day. I signed up to do the second half game thread, which I figured I would only take about 5 minutes, and then volunteered to do some nitty-gritty analysis for Monday morning readers.
The thing is, I'm only here for the weekend, and I have a million people and places to visit, and a Warriors game to watch too! And like Melville's Ismael, the ocean beckons me, and I felt compelled to answer the call of the mighty Pacific.
I headed over the hill from San Jose to Santa Cruz, which was packed with weekend visitors. I decided I wanted to pick up some Santa Cruz Warriors gear and headed downtown to see what I could find. Parking was scarce. Along with the weekend traffic, there was some sort of gay pride festival in the area, and after about 20 minutes of futility, I settled on a spot about a half-mile away. I tossed some quarters in the meter and hoofed it downtown to the Warriors store.
Much to my dismay, the store was closed on Sunday. I hung my head and turned around, and then realized that I had parked just a few blocks East of the arena. I decided to head over there on the off chance that someone would be working who could sell me a few shirts that I could take to the viewing party at my friend Bobby's house later that evening.
As I waited by the crosswalk for traffic to subside a little, a convertible pulled up covered with Warriors merchandise. Sitting in the backseat was a turtle in a Warriors uniform!
"Hey, I'm in from out of town and I was hoping to buy some Santa Cruz Warriors gear while I'm here, but the store is closed. I write for Golden State of Mind, and I'm looking for enough gear to hook my friends up for the game tonight. Do you guys know where I could pick some up?"
The lady sitting shotgun said, "No problem. I'm Jim Weyermann's assistant, Leonie Mendoza. Follow me!"
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. She gave me two t-shirts, seven hand towels, a pennant, and a Klay Thompson bobblehead. She then hopped in her car to go open the store for me. I hoofed it, stopping at the liquor store on the way, picked her up some wine to say thanks, and took a shot of Don Julio with her husband, who had been in the turtle costume. I bought a jersey for myself, a hoodie for my girlfriend, and three long sleeve warm up jerseys to take to the party.
So far, the day was going great! I got a ton of great gifts for everyone and still had plenty of time to get to the beach. I decided to avoid the tourists and headed up to Davenport, which is a somewhat secret little beach about ten miles up the coast. I hiked down the cliffs and strolled down the sand , which was littered with little blue jellyfish. I climbed around on the rocks on the South end of the beach, taking countless pictures as the ocean pummeled the barnacles and anemones that blanket the tiny peninsula jutting off the cliffs. Then I meandered to the North end, where the millennium of tides had eroded caves into the rock face, and fat, black seabirds roosted high above.
After a few short hours, I decided it was time to head over to Sunnyvale to catch the game. When I arrived at the car, I discovered that I had lost the key somewhere on the beach! To make matters worse, the car was borrowed from my friend. I did another lap up and down the beach, hoping beyond hope that I would stumble across the key, but no such luck.
I called my friend, who called AAA. The tow truck driver showed up right before tip-off.
I listened to most of the dismal contest on the radio from the front seat of a tow truck. I posted the game thread from my phone. Traffic on 17 was pretty bad, and we didn't get back to Sunnyvale until the beginning of the fourth quarter. As soon as we arrived, I passed out some gear, grabbed the spare key, and hightailed it over to Bobby's house.
Bobby and I were roommates when Cohan took over the Warriors, and we hadn't watched a Warriors game together since Webber returned to the Oakland Coliseum as a player for the Washington Bullets. We saw Reggie Miller score 8 points in six seconds, and we saw Hakeem take a 6th seed to a championship. We won Vegas bets on both of those events, back when we were following the Dead right before Jerry died. I was really looking forward to watching a game together again.
I showed up to his apartment with the Warriors down 8. My friends Bill and Charlie were also there, along with some other fans, and they all seemed resigned to a loss for the Warriors.
LeBron hit a three, and someone said, "That's what a REAL MVP does." The Warriors were down 11.
Enter the small-ball-death-squad. Some timely defense, a few bad calls going our way, and about three minutes later, and we're going to overtime. Again. All of a sudden, everyone in the room is looking at me like I'm the team's good luck charm... but I've been following this team for A LOT more losses than wins in the last 30+ years.
"The Warriors are +8 since Nate (my real name) got here!"
"LeBron hit that three, and I look over at Nate, and he just looks like 'No big deal'."
The Warriors were bad in overtime, and the Cavs squeaked out a two point win.
"That's the series" Bill said. Bill only calls me when the Warriors do badly. If they are down 10, I'm sure to hear from him. He still owes me a new hat from the Memphis series, when I got him to put his money where his mouth is. I've been trying to talk him into a bet for one of those satin Warriors jackets, but he hasn't taken the bait yet.
"Why don't you analyze Curry's shooting since the fall?" he said.
7-32 from 3 point land, and less than 33% from the field. There ya go, buddy. He's shot poorly for 13 quarters. You should probably bet me that Warriors jacket.
Nate Parham wanted me to do an in-depth analysis piece here, and I even watched the game from the start later that night, hoping to give you guys some adjustments and point out the keys to the Warriors reversing their fortunes from Sunday night.
That's right, I've been through a pretty crazy 4 day run here, and I watched that abysmal game twice. Curry was awful in overtime. That last turnover was ridiculously bad; probably worse than that airball he fired up over Delly. He was bad all game, but the team managed to keep it close, mostly because the Cavs were bad too.
Speights missed a dunk. Curry couldn't shoot. Kerr forgot to play Barbosa (who had a 242 ORtg in six minutes), and the team forgot how to pass. We had 16 assists and 18 turnovers. Tony Brothers AND Scott Foster worked the game, and the Warriors got away with some fouls somehow. The Cavs got 5 extra possessions from the turnovers and 10 more from the glass. The Cavs shot 40 free throws and the Warriors only shot 25. Lebron put up a monster triple double. Mozgov was huge. Draymond shot .286 from the field, and that was way better than Curry.
My analysis? This game was garbage. This was about as bad as the Warriors have looked offensively, and they still only lost by two points in overtime. Just an ugly game. I don't think any adjustments are really necessary, beyond remembering to keep moving on offense and force Lebron to take 40 shots like in game 1. He does less damage as a volume scorer than he does when he gets his all-around game going.
I called the Warriors (in 7), and I'm sticking to that. Anyone want to bet a jacket?
The Good: We won game 1, my family and friends are awesome, food fights in dress clothes, the Santa Cruz Warriors staff is amazing, and so is the ocean.
The Bad: Loved ones leaving us, Steph's shooting, the officiating both ways, turnovers, losing keys on the beach, listening to KNBR in a tow truck.
The Ugly: The Warriors in that last overtime.
Prediction: We gonna be championship.