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Warriors vs Pacers Preview: Cook’s dramatic chase for playoff dreams

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Quinn Cook is in a high stakes game with other Dubs bench players over the champs last roster spot as they defend their title in the playoffs. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has playoff plans of his own hanging in the balance.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (54-19) vs. Indiana Pacers (43-31)

When: 7:30pm PST - Tuesday, March 27th 2018

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

How to watch: NBCSBA

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Really Awesome Blog Buddy: Indy Cornrows

Injuries

Warriors: Stephen Curry (knee), out. Klay Thompson (thumb), out. Draymond Green (flu), questionable. Omri Casspi (ankle) doubtful. Kevin Durant, (ribs) doubtful.

Pacers: Domantis Sabonis (ankle), questionable.

The defending world champion Golden State Warriors have recently become accustomed to smashing records at the end of the regular season...not their own fragile limbs. And yet, here we stand, watching the champs attempt to avoid further crippling during the last few weeks of this pre-playoff grueling marathon.

Of course, this only heightens the dramatic attention that has surrounded the burgeoning dynasty since the Dubs first defeated Lebron James’ Cavaliers in the summer of 2015. Now, we all know the NBA is some pretty good entertainment, but I’m starting to wonder if this version of “Golden State Theater” is just a fresh take on some old standards.

Think about it. Our point guard, Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter in the history of the game, The Bay’s Hero, goes down like plate of BBQ at a Marshawn Lynch family reunion. Steve Kerr’s vaunted offensive system needs a point guard who is wise, unselfish, and is a consistent threat from outside (i.e. not Russell Westbrook). Out of nowhere appears Quinn Cook, here to save the day!

Didn’t we already see somebody named “Quinn” come in to rescue a bunch of shooters in the Wild Wild West? We did, folks: “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”.

Damn, that’s a classic. But, in order for Cook to make the playoff roster, the Warriors will have to release one member of the Splash Continuum back into the abyss that is “non-Dubs basketball”. Our very own Hugo Kitano touched on this conundrum in a beautiful piece, entitled: “The Warriors should add Quinn Cook to the playoff roster”. Here’s a choice excerpt:

The Warriors have until April 11th to add Cook to the playoff roster, so they have some time to make a decision. Cook would bring energy and shooting to a playoff squad that could use it.

The Warriors would likely cut Omri Casspi if they bring Cook aboard for the playoffs. Currently, it seems that Kevon Looney, Zaza Pachulia, and JaVale McGee have specific roles carved out for them, while Damian Jones is under contract for next year. Casspi is a versatile forward who rebounds well, but his refusal to shoot threes and his tendency to become invisible on the floor make him a liability. His injury problems (he currently has a sprained ankle) have affected his availability as well.

There’s a currently running poll for which Warrior is most expendable in the Cook era, and right now the future project that is Jones has a sliver of a lead over a veteran fan favorite, Casspi. Who knows what coach Steve Kerr and Bob Myers will decide, but I’m fairly certain they will consider that GSoM poll when getting to brass tacks, so please, if you haven’t already, cast your vote. #rockthevote

Anyway, this turns the last nine games of the season into a high stakes reality show where a handful of fascinating characters compete to remain on an island, while the loser gets booted off.

Wait a minute, this reminds me of-

Wow, we’re planting the seeds for some real must see-TV right now! WARRIORS! PACERS! NEXT!

Wait, the Pacers are actually good?

Let’s remind everybody what esteemed ESPN basketball soothsayer Zach Lowe wrote ‘bout Indiana’s entertainment value before the season in his annual League Pass Rankings:

Has a single person mentioned the Pacers in the past four months in any context other than, “That’s all they got for Paul George????” Do they exist? Did you know they signed Bojan Bogdanovic, and there is a real chance he leads them in scoring? It’s true!

This team had zero identity with Paul George — no style, no bedrock philosophy — and now George has turned into Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Opponents outscored Indy by almost seven points per 100 possessions with George on the bench last season. They were nothing without him. Not even the comedy of Lance Stephenson barking orders, dribbling to nowhere, and trash-talking LeBron like it’s 2014 could keep them from the cellar.

To quote esteemed “NCIS: Los Angeles” actor, LL Cool J: “Don’t call it a comeback!!!”. The Pacers are 5th in the East under the steady leadership of newly minted All-Star Victor Oladipo. Did you know George almost didn’t make an All-Star team this year? Weird.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Indiana Pacers
Oladipo is feeling good about his team’s playoff status
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oladipo is averaging 23 points a game, with 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, on 46% shooting from the field. Those are all career highs. Maybe he can share a few words with Kevin Durant about what it like feels to be liberated.

Indy is fueling it’s magical run with Oladipo’s ascension and an opportunistic defense. They are 13th ranked in Defensive Rating, and 2nd in the league in steals behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 3rd team in steals was the Utah Jazz, the guys who were terrorizing the passing lanes against the wounded Warriors two nights ago.

The Dubs must be sure to fight being flustered when the Pacers tighten the clamps, otherwise that athletic team will prey on turnovers/bad shots for easy buckets, According to NBA.com, the Pacers are fifth most effective scoring team at scoring in transition. Just for kicks: The Warriors remain in first in this category, with the Houston Rockets second behind them.

In a bizarre scheduling move, this is the first time the two teams will meet this season. Maybe that’s because the last time the two franchises clashed in Roaracle, Klay Thompson got so busy the NBA had to raise the game’s TV rating from “General Audiences” to “Mature Audiences Advised”.

Gold-blooded Prediction: Indiana is looking to steal the 4th seed in the East and actually take home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That would be HUGE in a projected matchup between 4/5 seeds.

The Warriors are winding down the season trying not to end up in an ER, or a General Hospital, or the damn Twilight Zone. I’d be surprised if they give a full out effort to stop these marauding hopefuls from the other conference.

Then again, Quinn Cook might go off for 60 in his best Thompson impersonation. You know, like “The Pretender”?

Gold-blooded drama prediction: Warriors defeat the Pacers on a Cook game winner over Oladipo, 93-92.