Well, that couldn’t have gone much worse. The Warriors didn’t defeat San Antonio 136-100 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. They stole their heart, crushed their spirit and made off with their lunch money.
The result — America dislikes the Dubs even more. Too boring. Too talented. And, let’s just say it, a little too pleased with themselves.
It remains the enduring mystery of professional basketball why a team that emphasizes ball movement, sharing the glory and running the floor tirelessly can engender such sneering and shade-throwing.
Sure they won, the narrative goes, but only because two of the Spurs’ best players, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. are injured.
So we’re back to two years ago, when the Warriors won the title but critics said it was only because a voodoo curse caused opponents to suffer a rash of injuries.
Let’s not pretend that Leonard’s injury isn’t significant. SB Nation points out that from the moment he went down, the Warriors have outscored San Antonio by 61 points.
But from the reaction, you’d think the only fair option for the Warriors would be to sit out Kevin Durant or Steph Curry in the spirit of good sportsmanship. In the postgame, a reporter asked Spurs coach Greg Popovich,“was it a fair fight tonight?”
Popovich opined that his team seemed mentally dispirited by the loss of their best player. You picture them looking sadly at Leonard’s jersey hanging in the locker and wondering, “Oh, what’s the point?”
“I don’t think, as a group, they believed,” Popovich said. “I think we felt it too much. We had a lack of edge, intensity and effort.”
Huh. Actually, I agree with Curry, who said he was surprised to hear Pop’s comments. He said he thought the Spurs came out focused and “light on their feet.”
That’s how it looked from the cheap seats. The Spurs began the game making hard cuts, quick passes and pounding the ball inside.
And Golden State ran circles around them. You can pick your own turning point if you’d like, but when you win by 36, there are no wrong answers.
Just for fun, I’ll choose a sequence in the first quarter. The Spurs’ Jonathan Simmons had just nailed a jumper to make it 9-6 and we were settling in for a back-and-forth battle.
On the next trip down, Draymond Green — whose name appears on the play-by-play sheet as Dr. Green — went with a behind-the-back bounce pass to gravity-challenged Zaza Pachulia, who dunked with both (!) hands.
That was followed by a turnover by Pau Gasol and a fast-break pass by Doctor Green to create a 3-point bomb by Curry. That pushed the lead to eight and sent the full house into delirium.
From there on it was only a matter of guessing the margin of victory. As the official play-by-play sheet said, “Lead changes: 0. Ties: 0.”
The result? America is not entertained.
“You look at that roster,” said Simmons, singled out by Popovich as the one player who stepped up to the challenge. “There are not too many teams with a roster like that.”
So we’re back to the signing of Durant at the start of the season. There’s are still those who not only insist acquiring him was an unfair advantage, but that Durant took “the easy way” by signing with an established playoff finalist.