There is no team in the National Basketball Association this year that will or can take down the Golden State Warriors four times in seven games. There is, however, a looming consensus by most pundits, fans, and retired basketball players that believe there is a certain type of style that bodes well for opponents.
There is a train of thought that assumes that the Warriors tend to back down for any particular reason when limbs start to hit limbs and a basketball game slightly turns into football. Just about a couple minutes into this first series against the Houston Rockets, Patrick Beverley smothered Stephen Curry on the perimeter and did not stop. After a called foul and some more hands and grabbing, in his most emotive state of being this season, Curry pushed off and shoved Beverley backwards.
After the game, Steve Kerr did nothing to flame the fire. He admitted this was how postseason basketball is supposed to be played, with physicality and lots of shoving. He even admitted he would guard Steph the same way if he was still in the league. Draymond Green, ever the honest character, paid his respects to Beverley as a non-dirty player because of how he's played the same way despite getting a huge contract when most would have done otherwise. Finally, Stephen Curry, in a glorious Run TMC hat, chuckled at the notion the grabbing got to him, instead hoping that the refs would keep letting them play this style.
Watch: Beverley, Curry get physical
The Rockets pulled out their most desperate tactics early with Patrick Beverley openly swinging at Steph Curry in the first quarter.
On one sequence, Curry dropped a three with 20 seconds left on the shot clock and facing the other side of the court as he caught the ball. As Houston brought the ball up court, Steph put both hands up and cupped it towards the crowd, telling them to get loud. He did it the entire possession until he drew an illegal screen call, then screaming and fist pumping right into the Houston bench. Not one time this season has Curry demonstratively looked that amped, that ready, and that prepared to take on any team that's ready to partake in the Stephen Curry Rules.
The Golden State Warriors see your need to play physical, understand the innate postseason pain, and relish in the fun of it all.
1. To try and combat GSW's speed, Bickerstaff decided to go small with Trevor Ariza at the 4 and Corey Brewer to start. It worked out as well as you thought.
2. Harrison Barnes started out with 3 post-ups against James Harden. Harden is an awful defender but is strong and most mistakes for him come off the ball. Needless to say, GSW did not go back to this at all.
3. After a season where GSW struggled with defense at times, it looks like the switch is back on. The Rockets could barely get an open look to start and was unable to score when it mattered. It also doesn't help them that they simply don't have any shooters.
4. Bickerstaff played most of the starters to start the 2nd quarter as Kerr went with his usual bench unit. They trimmed just 3 off the lead before Steph and Dray came back in. If you're not going to outplay the starters, try the bench, right?
5. Kerr went Death with about two minutes left up 24. It doesn't seem fair. It also goes to show just how great GSW is blowing out a playoff team without having to go to their best lineup.
6. Andre Iguodala is a great defender and passer but is out of rhythm right now shooting the ball. It'll come and luckily, GSW can afford waiting. Meanwhile, Marreese Speights is in the greatest rhythm to start. After a lay-in, he popped his jersey to the crowd. He embodies the crowd's emotion when he is playing well.
7. James Harden had zero attempted free throws and looked out of sorts the entire first half. He won't struggle like this all series but is having trouble against the battalion of GSW wings. It doesn't help no one around him can shoot, leaving zero spacing.