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Do the Warriors have to beat the Cavs next week?




Near the end of another enjoyable chat with Warriors broadcaster/KNBR midday stalwart Bob Fitzgerald today — on our semiweekly “Fitz Files” segment — I had to ask Fitz the question:

Is it mandatory that the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday?

Now, understand. I’m not talking mandatory as in, build the bomb shelter, ration the food, tune in to the signal for the Emergency Broadcast System and fend for yourself “Red Dawn”-style mandatory.

We understand. If the Cavs beat the Dubs on Monday, you’ll still get into your car, listen to KNBR’s postgame with Woody and Covay on the way home, tune into “Murph and Mac” Tuesday morning and otherwise lead your normal, healthy American lifestyle.

(Enjoy that product placement?)

But I’d argue that the other kind of mandatory — as in, the Warriors need a win over LeBron like a baby needs his mama — is in play.

Why? Some of the ways:

— The Warriors have a 4-game losing streak against Cleveland.

I know. It hurts just to type those words. But Games 5, 6 and 7 in last June’s NBA Finals, plus the Christmas Day Choke in Cleveland equals four different times the Cavs have marched off the court with LeBron way too amped up, wearing that headband that annoys us all.

This is beginning to matter.

You can write off Game 5 as the “Draymond Was At the A’s Game” game, and Game 6 as a “Cleveland Was Going to Win At Home, You Knew That” game, but Game 7 — the LeBron block/Kyrie Irving jump shot game — and the blown 14-point lead on Xmas are games that called into question the Warriors confidence in their ability to finish off Cleveland.

Right now, Cleveland has the edge on the Dubs in executing down the stretch, and Kyrie has made bigger shots than anyone when it matters most. This momentum must be stopped, immediately, if not sooner.

— Steph is beginning to have a Cleveland problem.

The last two times the Cavs have beaten the Warriors have not been the two favorite days of Steph Curry’s life. A look at the numbers:

Game 7, NBA Finals: 39 minutes, 6/19 FG, 4/14 three point FG, 4 turnovers, 2 assists.

Dec. 25, 2016: 37 minutes, 4/11 FG, 2/7 three point FG, 3 turnovers, 3 assists.

I trust all you awesome Jock Blog readers can do math, but just to emphasize the point, let’s do it all together. That’s 10/30 from the field (33 percent!), 6 of 21 from beyond the arc (28.5 percent!) and a 7:5 turnover/assist rate.

That turns the MVP from “Most Valuable Player” to more like, “Man, Very Poor.”

Whether it’s new defensive whiz DeAndre Liggins, or whether it’s a pressure Steph puts on himself, or whether it’s just two bad games that can be turned around quickly, the idea on Monday would be to put Steph back into LeBron’s consciousness.

There was a time in the 2014-15 championship season, all the way up until the 2015-16 NBA Finals, that most observers concurred that the NBA was Steph’s league now. Not LeBron’s league. Steph’s league.

That’s swung back LBJ’s way now. This must be changed, immediately, if not sooner.

— National haters are beginning to bug.

I know, I know. Last thing anyone should be worried about is the 140-character trolling of a troll, as I was just saying to our President Elect.

But man, there are many fans across this great land of ours who do NOT like our beloved, cuddly Golden State Warriors. While we see the Warriors as a team as adorable as that polar bear romping in the snow at the Oregon zoo, many haters, as the kids call them, see Draymond Green as dirty, see Steph Curry as overrated, see Kevin Durant as lacking bravery and see Warriors fans as way too present in their lives.

To which I say to them, as the great Flo from “Alice” used to say: Kiss my grits.

From Jerry West to Bob Myers to Steve Kerr to our money man on “Murph and Mac”, the great Ron Adams, we all know the Dubs are a first-rate organization run by first-class people. Heck, all we have to do is compare the relative state of the Bay’s NBA team against the NFL team in Santa Clara for a tidy little compare-and-contrast.

But if you venture into the jungle that is social media, you’ll find millions of sports fans licking their chops, waiting for another Dubs meltdown at the hands of LeBron on Monday.

I don’t like Warriors haters. I like what the Dubs have built.

So a win on Monday is mandatory. You know, in that un-mandatory kind of mandatory way.