OAKLAND — I have a motto: There's always time to panic.
And so, Warriors-rooters, take a seat. We’re only one game into a long march. And if the Dubs falter and fail, there will be plenty of time to jump on that pile.
Remember, there are four playoff rounds in all, including the Finals. Even if a team was to win every matchup 4-0, they would still play an entire, 16-game NFL season between now and June.
Having done it three years in a row, nobody knows the grind better than the Warriors. It almost justifies tanking the final regular-season games.
Let’s don’t kid ourselves — there is a weird vibe around the team, and it isn’t the lack of Steph Curry. Much of the speculation centers around Kevin Durant, who was apparently kidnapped by a voodoo cult and, in the words of Charles Barkley, turned into “a totally different person.”
I think there are a lot of persons inside that 35 jersey. Durant is an interesting guy. I don’t want to say “intelligent,” because we use that so often it is a cliche. But he’s got a lot more interests off the court than I expected. He genuinely seems like someone who moved to the Bay Area to broaden his horizons.
But beginning with five ejections (he had just two before this year), Durant is having an odd season. He gets tossed — the last time with two T’s in seconds — then comes into the interview room and chats like no big deal. So were you mad, KD, or is this something else?
And it has to be said, once this run-out-the-string period of the schedule arrived, Durant was the clear captain of the “Who Cares Brigade.” That inbounds pass in the Utah game, which was so careless and obvious that Ricky Rubio had time to run around Quinn Cook and intercept the ball with both hands like a handoff, put the lack in lackluster.
Such sloppy play was a pattern for the final weeks. So coach Steve Kerr went to his patented break-the-clipboard moment.
After a 20-point loss to the Pacers, Kerr said his team put in “an embarrassing effort, a pathetic effort.”
Reporters asked Durant what he thought, and he said the Pacers “came out with a better strategy …”
Which set off ooohing and aaaahing all over the blogosphere. Clearly, they said, Durant is clapping back at his coach. Is there locker room drama?
(Which, I just have to say, is why you have to love the NBA. In baseball they charge the mound. In pro hoops they parse the meaning of “strategy.”)
Anyhow, the usual template is that the Warriors, duly riled up, come out full of fire in the next game and establish order. And they did play better.
But they lost to the Pelicans by six. Which is just a reminder that it isn’t as easy to turn it on as everyone seems to think.
And then, even more fascinating, on Sunday, after defeating hapless Phoenix, Kerr made a point to backtrack on the tough talk.
“Probably chose my words poorly,” he said. “That can be interpreted as questioning their character.”