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Murph: The Warriors can, and probably will, still win the NBA Championship

© Darren Yamashita | 2022 Jun 2

I heard it all Thursday night and Friday morning.

The Warriors are old.

The Warriors are in trouble.

The Warriors are done.

Man! Other than the 53 wins, the sixth finals berth in eight years, and the 12-4 blitz through the Western Conference playoffs — what have you done for me lately, Steph/Klay/Dray?

It’s a tough hot-take world out there, sports fans.

And the Jock Blog is here to pronounce, with great certainty: The Warriors will show up for Game 2, and are not eliminated from the NBA Finals yet.

To repeat, for those in the back who are hard of hearing and too busy tweeting: The Warriors will show up for Game 2, and are not eliminated from the NBA Finals yet.

There are many reasons I have such a blisteringly hot take, but prime among them is: I have the Warriors winning the series in seven games. And if you’re going to win in seven, you have to lose three along the way, right? 

All credit to the Celtics and their Fabulous Fourth Quarter. Should the Celts go on to win the NBA Finals, they may do a ’30 For 30’ on that final stanza alone, a 40-16 hydrogen bomb that left the Bay Area stumbling around in a daze for hours.

But I’ve believed the Warriors will prevail because I have yet to see Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Andre Iguodala and Steve Kerr — when healthy and together — lose a playoff series. (I’m not counting the 2016 NBA Finals. Draymond’s suspension changed everything and I ain’t budging on that. Sue me.)

And until I see it, I won’t believe it.

The Celtics and their defense and their wing size present enormous problems, yes. Hence, the seven-game prediction.

But I want to remind everyone that the Warriors led that game. 92-80, after three quarters, and it took an intergalactic, alien display of three-point shooting to turn the tide. It was almost as if the basketball gods gifted the Celtics a 9-of-12 three-point shooting quarter — including seven of the first seven, for the love of Larry Bird! — to remind the Warriors that those same gods once gifted the Dubs an 0-for-27 stretch by the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Derrick White combined to go 15-for-23 from beyond the arc in Game 1. 

In the regular season, Horford shot 33% from three-point land. In the regular season, Smart shot 33% from three-point land. In the regular season, White shot 31% from three-point land.

On Thursday night at Chase, they combined to shoot 65.2% from out there.

Bro.

I’m not saying they were the beneficiaries of pure chance, because they took the shots and they made them, but . . . . bro.

The Warriors said all the right things after the game, how they will respond to adversity, how the road is never easy, how it’s only one game. I half-wanted Steph to stare into the camera and say: “I challenge Horford, Smart and White to come shoot 65% from 3-point land again on Sunday. 5 pm. Pistols drawn. See you there.”

The pro-Celtic argument pointed out that Jayson Tatum went 3-for-17 from the field, and that his certain re-emergence will make the Celtics that much better. I would counter that when he does re-emerge, Horford/Smart/White will not be shooting 65% from three-point land alongside said re-emergence.

You could also counter that the Warriors surely — hopefully? — will get significantly better offensive games from Klay Thompson and (gulp) Jordan Poole. And I would guess that the decorated coaching staff Kerr has assembled will respond on Sunday, and beyond, defensively.

I get it, OK? The Celtics are not the Mavericks. They are the toughest matchup the Warriors could ask for. It has shown through the years, their struggles with Boston’s defensive length and intensity. This will be a scar-filled battle, and it will be dramatic, and it will be close. Epic, even.

But I’m not burying the Warriors after one horrific quarter. If anything, it will arouse the Warriors from their Mavericks-induced slumber and make them realize it’s a 48-minute, not 36-minute game. 

The Warriors are not ready to go yet. Like that New England QB once said, the one Celtics fans love so much: They’re still here. 

Bring on Game 2, and the next five.

 

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