They shouldn’t have gone six against the Clippers.
Steph Curry is in the worst shooting drought of his playoff career.
Klay Thompson can’t find his way to the bucket.
The mileage and minutes of the last half-decade of springtime runs is worn into their tired, slumping shoulders.
And yet — how much fun is this Warriors/Rockets Western Conference semifinal?
That’s right. I’m that guy. I’m here on the Jock Blog saying that losing two straight in Houston is still OK, and we should all look at Game 5 at Oracle on Wednesday night as an opportunity for more Warrior lore.
As our main man Fitz likes to say on the daily “Fitz Files”, there’s a reason no NBA team since the Bill Russell Celtics has gone to five straight NBA Finals. All the cliches ring true, most of all the words from boxer (Marvelous) Marvin Hagler: “It’s hard to stay hungry when you wake up in silk pajamas.”
The Rockets have been sleeping in burlap sacks. They haven’t tasted an NBA Finals berth in the James Harden Era. GM Daryl Morey has publicly said he’s “obsessed” with beating the Warriors.
And it plays out as such. PJ Tucker is exerting his will on the offensive glass. Eric Gordon is shooting like Klay and Steph want to. Harden raised his game to MVP levels in Games 3 and 4.
The Warriors are fatigued. The specter of Kevin Durant’s future lingers over the team. Ankle sprains for Curry and Thompson sustained in Game 6 vs. the Clippers loom like haunting reminders of the team’s inability to maximize their talent and dispose of the Clippers handily.
Yet, for all that — as Steve Mariucci used to say, “Is this fun or what?”
It’s a best-of-3 from here, with two at Oracle. Curry’s woes have set him up for an explosive finish to the series. Klay is always two flicks of the wrist away from catching fire. Plus, you never know when he’ll hop in the Pacific to refresh his soul and go for 35 points after he towels off. Durant looms, ready to add to his already massive playoff legend, and go off for 40-plus at any moment.
The road to history is rocky, and filled with barbed wire. This ain’t a sweep of the overmatched Cavs, sports fans. This is the challenge that has awaited the Warriors since Durant got here.
How else would you want it? The Steve Young 49ers had to get past the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys, and when they did, the nectar was extra sweet. The Bruce Bochy Giants had to get past 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in Cincinnati and St. Louis, and when they did, the champagne was ice cold.
The Warriors had seven games vs. Durant’s Thunder in 2016; seven again last year vs. the Rockets. Those were opportunities for greatness. So is this. You’ve seen Curry and Klay answer the bell before. You can’t wait to see if they do again. You can’t wait to hear Oracle at Run-TMC levels of noise in Game 5 and, yes, Game 7.
That’s why we’re in this, sports fans. Savor it.