The question separated Kevin Durant and Draymond Green from their vocabularies and made them resort to sound effects.
Before the reporter had even finished her question, Durant let go with a long, gusty exhale — “pheeeewwwww” — then went full R2-D2, with a “sssssssss” followed by a “zzzzzzzzz.” Green jumped in to add, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
For the record, that was eight “blahs” for Green, who had just left the court with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. So close to a quadruple-double.
It was postgame in Salt Lake City on Monday. The Warriors had just wrapped up a four-game sweep of the Jazz in the wake of a four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers, and a lot of people in Sportsland were suggesting that the 2017 NBA playoffs had become a yawn-fest. Durant and Green apparently were more bored by the line of questioning than by the postseason, which is natural.
Still, the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers each are 8-0 in the playoffs, and both will be heavy favorites in their respective conference finals in the next round. If both advance, it will be the first time in history that the same teams will have played in the NBA Finals in three consecutive years.
We’ve seen history made here the past few years, with Golden State’s 24-0 start and 73-9 overall record in 2015-16, and with Stephen Curry’s unanimous MVP vote to cap that season. Warriors-Cavs III would be another significant milestone.
But it is worth it? Does it justify a postseason obstacle course that is more Fun Run than Marine Corps basic training?
To those in and around the Warriors organization, the answer seems to be a clear “yes.” People keep asking them about it, and they keep answering in the manner of broadcaster Jim Barnett during his segment with WJBX in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday.
“I think it’s very good. I think it’s exciting,” Barnett said. “And I thought that the eighties, when you had Boston and Los Angeles going at it, essentially every other year, was the most exciting era of basketball. That decade was terrific.”
This is the rivalry most frequently offered up as a comparison to Warriors-Cavaliers, and the association is tantalizing. The Celtics of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish faced the Lakers of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy three times in four years between 1984 and 1987, and their battles were epic. One of their finals went seven games, the other two six games, and many of those contests were incredible.
If Golden State and Cleveland have a chance to re-create a feud that indelible, we should be grateful.
But 2017 Warriors-Cavs is shaping up differently than mid-1980s L.A.-Boston in one key regard. The Western Conference was spotty in those days, and in two of those three showdown years the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals without truly being pushed. The East, on the other hand, was a dark alley. The Celtics were extended to seven games by the New York Knicks (Bernard King, Bill Cartwright) in the 1984 conference semifinals, by the Milwaukee Bucks (Terry Cummings, Jack Sikma) in the 1987 semis and by the Detroit Pistons (Adrian Dantley, Isiah Thomas) in the 1987 East finals.