You guys ready for a Jock Blog 180?
What’s a sports talk radio guy without a reversal of opinion?
In this very cyber space two weeks ago, I offered the “Warriors Escape From Shawshank” analogy. I posited the regular season as a prison sentence, and the Andy Dufresne/Red destination of Zihuatanejo as the promised land of the playoffs.
Now, as the Warriors head to Staples Center for Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers, it may be more like the Warriors are still stuck in the tunnel of, um, “sewage.”
Wednesday night’s Game 5 had all the disturbing earmarks of the Warriors’ flat regular season performances at Oracle Arena, most notably the distinct lack of defense.
Unfortunately, the act of surrendering 71 points to the Clippers in the first half of Game 5 was not an outlier.
The Warriors’ team defensive rating in the 2018-19 regular season was their worst of the Steve Kerr Era.
Mind, the defense is still pretty good. Top 10, in fact. Or, 10th, to be precise. But compared with the halcyon days of 2015 (No. 1 in defensive rating), the 73-win 2016 season (No. 4) and the championship season of 2017 (No. 2), there is a drop-off.
Is it because their defensive leader, Draymond Green, has more wear on his tires? Is it because playing four consecutive NBA Finals has fatigued legs overall? Is it because, as we were saying this morning on the show, “heavy lies the crown” of back-to-back titles, and motivation is in shorter supply?
You might want to say ‘yes’ to all of these.
But the sight of Montrezl Harrell thundering down the lane, unimpeded, on pick-and-roll dunks leaves one to wonder where the ‘D’ in ‘Dubs’ and ‘Dynasty’ went. And it also raises alarming questions of how they will handle the James Harden/Clint Capela pick and roll — should the Warriors somehow squeak past the Clippers.
The Warriors are stuck in the tunnel of sewage, all right. They have lost consecutive home playoff games for the first time since the bone-chilling memory of Game 5 and Game 7 in the 2016 NBA Finals. Except this time, they don’t have the excuse of a suspended Draymond Green or an injured Andrew Bogut.
They have lost the “rest factor” they were talking about after Game 4, hoping to take care of the Clips in five games. Now, they are *hoping* to finish off the Clips in six. And that’s no guarantee.
While Steph Curry has yet to put his fingerprints on the series, and while perhaps officiating has played a role in his lack of offense, the bottom line is the Warriors need to do things in this championship run they’ve never had to do before. They have to overcome what appears to be a home court “disadvantage”, and they have to summon up a defense from four springs ago.
No team in the Kerr Era has had to go six games in the first round. Heavy lies the crown, indeed.