The defending champion Golden State Warriors only lost one game in the entire postseason last year. And this year, we crushed both the Spurs and Pelicans in relatively uneventful five game series’ that barely required the services of the team’s injured hero, Stephen Curry.
So after winning Game 1 handily in Houston, Game 2 seemed like yet another opportunity to rip out a Western Conference hopeful’s wriggling soul en route to another parade in Oakland.
But P.J. Tucker stood up, and said, “Not today, Golden Empire!”
Wow. Tucker , a guy who averaged six points per game during the regular season, having the greatest game of his life at our expense, is enough to turn even the most even-keeled Dub Nation supporter to hard liquor for the night. #hennygang
Gold-blooded Pain vs Normal NBA Fan Pain
So, this morning I woke up a tad glum/hungover. I rolled over in bed and began texting the members of my various basketball related group chats, guys I’ve known for many years who have various team allegiances from all over the country.
Me: Ugh, guys...I can’t believe the Warriors just lost their first Western Conference Finals game since 2016.
Dyon, a Hornets fan: Get over it
Stepfan, a Wizards fan: (expletive) Yall Warriors fans are so spoiled.
Me: Look... i predicted a sweep! I’m stunned we couldn’t win both games in Houston. If LeBron could do it in Toronto, why can’t we?
Ahpe, a Dubs fan: Yeah, I thought we might sweep em too
B-Davis, a Heat fan: No one cares about your first world problems
Then it dawned on me. I had been ensconced inside the glorious bubble of Golden Empire for so long, leisurely watching the rival kingdoms tsunami’d from afar, that I had completely forgotten about the rest of the league’s sadness. It’s hard for me to even stomach watching the majority of NBA teams incessantly pound the air out of the ball while their stagnant teammates despondently wait until the game is over so they can DM more Instagram models from the nearest hotel bar.
I have friends and family members that live and die by teams that have to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs....in the East! There are Laker fans I know who are constantly showing Kobe Bryant highlights on Facebook just to keep from collapsing into catatonia. The vast majority of NBA fans were desperately praying for the lottery to reward them a savior in this week’s draft prelude!
And those poor Cleveland fans, held hostage by their king, LeBron James. I can’t imagine being a fan of a player who appears to relish reeling off 40-point triple-double performances to prove how inept his supporting cast is. Or maybe Cleveland is holding HIM hostage by saddling him with all of those journeymen as punishment for not committing to a longer contract! I don’t know, I just know somethin’ ain’t right in “The Land”.
I’m sorry for even forcing you to think about that TRULY depressing situation in Ohio, let me cleanse your palette with a clip of Curry drilling no-look daggers throughout his career
The bigger picture in Oakland
It’s hard to win games in the NBA, to stay healthy, to build chemistry, and to keep adapting. It’s even more difficult to obliterate playoff teams series after series, year after year. Yet, crazy enough, that is the new standard in Oakland.
- If we count this current Rocket campaign, we are in our 15th playoff series since Steve Kerr took over. We have only lost one series in that time frame, the infamous blown 3-1 lead to Cleveland.
- In the previous 14 series, 10 were won in 5 games or less.
- Counting this Houston series, we currently have a 56-18 playoff record in that time span.
With that in mind, I suppose complaining about not sweeping the Rockets is the pinnacle of basketball arrogance. The rule of thumb for any road team in a playoff series is to steal one game in hostile territory. The champs successfully accomplished that against an elite team. Now the Warriors have three out of the next four games at home in Oracle, the most intimidating arena in the NBA.
Still, watching the Warriors obliterate standard NBA “rules of thumbs” in the chase for greatness is part of what makes this experience so golden. That’s also why witnessing the team fail to be absolutely perfect hurts in a way most NBA fans can’t really relate to. That’s why if you check a gamethread or recap after a loss at GSOM, you have to bring a heavy dose of compassion. Don’t be too hard on the guy rambling about “why Kerr is a terrible coach”, or the gal pounding out an essay in the comments on why “KD iso-ball is the death of the Warriors as we know them”.
Embrace the “adversity”
Once you’ve had a taste of pure basketball dominance, especially after suffering many decades of the Dubs being garbage, it warps you. For some, it fills them with a surging sense of unwavering confidence (even last night, down 20, I was like “we got this”). Others over-analyze and nitpick any perceived mistake or weakness, no matter how irrelevant to the final score, because they fear losing the Warriors’ dominance. It’s kinda sick, actually.
Still, it’s important for as us as mere fans to put it all into perspective after these rare defeats. The Warriors have high-character, high-IQ, strong willed, basketball phenoms on this roster. Their coaching staff is brilliant, has the film, and will make adjustments. They’ve earned that trust at the very least.
Also can we talk about how the hilarity of Warriors fans nitpicking Kevin Durant’s lack of rebounding and assists in this series when the rest of the league is damn near threatening to boycott the NBA because of him joining Golden State? Talk about first world problems!
Anyways, the champs are still very comfortable, and have a chance to really seize control of the series in Game 3 against a game opponent. They’re coming back home to Oracle. What else could you ask for?
Besides a sweep, of course. That woulda been great. Sigh...where’s that Hennessy?