Golden State gets home early to prepare for the chip
Vincent Davis | 5/25/2017, 1:57 p.m.
The Golden State Warriors were good enough and talented enough to sweep through every round of the NBA’s Western Conference postseason since April 16 to be where they are today, home, preparing for nine days for the NBA Finals, which begin next June 1.
Championship basketball is finally here, a real test for Golden State’s perceived (modest) greatness, their third straight championship appearance, and potentially, a chance for Golden State to break the 1-1 tie with their Eastern Conference rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who’ve opposed them in the past two Finals series.
Some will say that the Portland Trailblazers and the Utah Jazz, who the Warriors beat decisively four straight games, each in Rounds 1 and 2, were inferior playoff opponents, and that the Warriors received a pass, a lucky break against the San Antonio Spurs, who came into the series without their guard Tony Parker, and then had to deal with the re-injury to forward Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 and an injury to David Lee in Game 3.
“It stinks that Kawhi wasn’t there, and Tony wasn’t there, and David wasn’t out there, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and you have to beat whoever is out there against you,” said Draymond Green, the Warriors’ forward after scoring 16 points, adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Green is correct. You play who you play. You play who qualifies, following the rules of seedings. For example, earlier this week, the Nashville Predators, an eighth-seeded hockey franchise, the last one to qualify for a playoff position in the Western Conference, beat the Anaheim Ducks, a three seed to advance to the NHL Championship, which begins Monday.
Golden State played 48 quarters of basketball in this season’s playoffs, winning 31 and losing 15, with 2 ties overall. Portland, the eighth seed was first. Golden State outscored them in four games by 72 points. Then Utah, the fifth seed, were outscored by 60 and held under 100 points, in three out of the four games. The Spurs, the two seed, the second-best team in the Western Conference, ranked second overall in the league during the regular season, Golden States’ final obstacle to the championship, was outscored by 64 points. Their injuries and the Warriors prowess were too much for the Spurs to overcome. Golden State closed out the hobbled, but valiant “two seed” Monday night, making them the first NBA team in league history to sweep a three-round conference series.
“12-0 is great, but it doesn’t mean anything going into the next series, and we understand that,” said Stephen Curry, who scored 36 points Monday night, accompanying the 29 and 12 rebounds contributed by teammate Kevin Durant.
“It’s great to be one of the last two teams standing,” said Durant, who surprisingly signed on with the Warriors as a free agent last summer, after playing with the Oklahoma Thunder for nine seasons, the team that drafted him.