(photographs by Ezra Shaw, Jason Miller, Ray Chavez and Juan Carlos Fajardo)
By Connor Buestad | firstname.lastname@example.org
To be honest, Warriors Faithful should have known better. No doubt, this is a bruised and battered basketball fan base in Oakland that has weathered many losing season storms, so I see the logic in walking on pins and needles through this playoff run. But at this juncture, I believe it is time to collectively (albeit apprehensively) hand over our keys to Steph Curry, sit quietly in the passenger seat, and let blind faith steer us through Memphis and home to the Western Conference Finals.
Friendly reminder: The Warriors didn’t lose more than two games in a row all season long. Hell, they didn’t lose more than two games at home for the entire regular season. So that’s why it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when the Dubs were able to dig themselves out of a 2-1 series hole in Game 4 and avoid losing three straight to Memphis.
The last time Golden State had suffered two consecutive losses was back in early April when they sputtered versus the Spurs and the Pelicans. In the following game at home against Damian Lillard’s Blazers, Curry promptly quieted any whispers that the Dubs had lost their edge, to the tune of 45 points over Portland. It was one of the Warriors many statement games this season, not to mention a fruitful stop on Steph’s MVP campaign trail.
This is the first full series that Curry has officially worn the MVP Belt, and after a uncharacteristically cold shooting night at “The Grindhouse” in Game 3, people like Charles Barkley began to toss around the possible “live by the three, die by the three” narrative. Fortunately, said narrative doesn’t appear to have any legs, as Chef Curry successfully sharpened his sword prior to Game 4 and finished with a resounding 33 points to even the series at two-a-piece.
Not only did the Dubs collectively re-discover their three-point rhythm in Game 4 (They shot roughly 20% from beyond the arc in games 2 and 3 as compared to almost 40% in Game 4), but they also rolled out an unorthodox defensive strategy that paid immediate dividends. Kerr, gambling on Tony Allen’s bum hamstring, made sure to keep Andrew Bogut entrenched in the paint to help out on Marc Gasol and Z-Bo. Left open, Allen was still unable to produce offensively in Game 4.
Now that the Warriors have re-gained home court advantage, we are looking at a three game series, the winner likely getting the very-beatable LA Clippers in the Western Finals. Game 6 will be back in Memphis on Friday, while the if-necessary Game 7 will be held in Oakland this Sunday. Vegas has appointed the Dubs a 9 ½ point favorite tonight, and coming off a 17-point road win on Monday in which they tallied 14 three-pointers, you can’t help but believe they will ride the Roaracle crowd to a 3-2 series advantage going back to Tennessee.
And if for whatever reason you lose faith on Wednesday night (perhaps Z-Bo gets hot or Mike Conley goes on a tear), just remember that Draymond Green’s mom stream-of-consciousness in-game twitter feed is about all the positive chatter you will need to get yourself through the end of this heavyweight series and beyond.
Keep enjoying the ride, Dubs fans. Let Roracle rip...
By Jamie Coffis | @touchcoffis86
Last Tuesday, I watched my Golden State Warriors lose a game to the New Orleans Pelicans 103-100, and I won’t lie, it was a little bit of a bummer. It was a bummer until I saw Stephen Curry’s face as he walked off the floor and gave a shrug to Steve Kerr that seemed to say something along the lines of “Eh, I could complain about getting fouled on that 3-point attempt right there but we still clinched the 1-seed in the West like forever ago, so whatever, I’m already over it.”
And at that moment, it all came rushing back to me. OH YEA, WE’RE AMAZING! It’s easy to forget that fact, but at the same time it shouldn’t be. Especially after what Warriors fans are used to feeling around this time of the year. We are in uncharted territory. It’s seriously never been this good for me as a Warriors fan, and frankly, it’s terrifying.
I have this really weird and unsettling feeling in my stomach as we prepare to head into the playoffs. I went on Web MD and searched my symptoms and apparently it’s referred to as something called “confidence.” It’s a feeling that I and fellow Warriors fans are very unfamiliar with. We are used to agonizing defeats and unrealized potential. In the past, if we were to lose a playoff series, we would high five each other and congratulate ourselves on a good season. A series win and a free “We Believe” T-shirt used to be enough. Those days appear to be over. We have real expectations this year. And to be honest I don’t know how to handle it.
Thus, I decided to take a look back at the worst things I can remember happening as a Warriors fan for the last couple of decades in hopes of gaining some perspective as we head into what promises to be a frighteningly historic playoff run. So here it is, buckle in.
In no particular order, here are some terrible things that I can remember having to endure as a Golden State Warriors fan over the past 20 years or so.
Oh God! Sir, are you drunk?
Seemingly Drunk Biedrins really started to suck by the end of his tenure as a Warrior. To make matters worse, it seemed like he never would convert a basket after getting fouled. It was never And-1, always And-2, and an ugly two at that. This is clearly anecdotal so I’ll punctuate this thought with some cold hard stats. “The Goose,” as I seem to remember one of his nicknames being, failed to shoot over 32% from the line after 2008-09. Sweet Jesus!
What a preposterous sentence I just wrote. That seriously happened!? Let’s just say Latrell Sprewell had a very interesting career and strangling P.J. Carlesimo is probably what he will be most remembered for. And rightfully so, that’s quite bizarre. Now we have the least strangle-able coach in the league. That is not anecdotal. That’s just good old fashioned irony.
There were a few iterations of this style of uniform. None of them were particularly good. The lightning bolt stuff was altogether regrettable and those orange jerseys are some of the worst uniforms you will ever see. We played bad, and we looked bad. At least we were consistent.
4. Some of the guys that we thought were the next great thing...
Pre-pubescent me was pretty excited when we acquired him at the trade deadline during another lost season. He lasted a little over two seasons for Golden State and went on to a pretty unremarkable career. 14 PPG in a 14 year career is not terrible by any means but we expected a lot more from Larry. It is also notable that he participated in the 2000 Slam Dunk contest that was held at Oracle Arena (the Vince Carter one) and did not complete a dunk.
Admit it, we were all really pumped on this guy. Looking back I have no idea why. He looked like he was crying the whole time he was on the court. I think maybe he was?
Undersized low post scorer that didn’t really pan out. He was a lottery pick we had high hopes for. His career and playing ability made you wonder if someone could ever be as mediocre as him. He was ten pounds of mediocrity in a five pound bag.
He was a number 1 pick! He wasn’t worse than Anthony Bennett (and who is), but he was one of the more unremarkable number 1 overalls in the last few decades when you consider how dominant he was as a Maryland Terp.
And they won the game! This was just the darndest thing you will ever see, but it is totally believable if you are Warriors fan. In retrospect, this was actually a pretty delightful game if you can believe it. Stephen Curry closed out his rookie year with his first 40 point game of his career.
6. Bad, and I mean BAD, contracts
Erick “Damp” Dampier - (7 years $48 million) Yea it sounds really bad until you realize that he opted out in the middle of this contract so that he could sign with Dallas for a mind boggling $73 million over 7 years. Yikes. Good riddance.
Andris Biedrins - (6 Years $63 million) He was productive initially and then afterwards not so much. Like not at all really.
Mike Dunleavy - (5 years $44 million) He’s had a solid career certainly (most of it not as a Warrior of course) but the best thing he ever did for the Bay Area was help us acquire Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington.
Corey Maggette - (5 years ~$50 Million) It was confusing then and its confusing now.
Adonal Foyle - (6 years 42 million) We were so happy with how well he played that we released him with 3 years and 29 million left on the deal. (But for the record, who doesn’t love Adonal).
None of this matters anymore though.
We have arrived. We are the team to beat not only in the West, but in the entire league. Our coach is Steve Kerr and he’s amazing. Stephen Curry is simply the best and most exciting basketball player on the planet right now. We have glue guys and role players coming out the woodwork. Draymond Green, Mo Speights, Shaun Livingston, Andre Igoudala, Harrison Barnes and even David Lee seem capable of becoming playoff heroes at some point or another over the course of the next several weeks. We have a healthy Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson is our second best scorer and arguably the best two-way player in the NBA.
So cheers to making it through the lean years and coming out stronger on the other side, Warriors fans. Sometimes it’s scary how good we are now. Literally.
By Connor Buestad | email@example.com
It was a familiar scene inside TNT’s Studio J following Thursday’s Warriors win over Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers. Four men, three of which were once NBA superstars, sat around the ultimate NBA water cooler and tried to figure out what they had just witnessed from Steph Curry. It’s something we all go through as followers of the enigma that is number 30.
Sure, this has happened time and time again this year as we all know. I keep telling myself it shouldn’t be a surprise. Steph gets hot early, and never really seems to ever cool off. His silky smooth jump shot so simple and repeatable that it becomes hard to believe when one of his beautifully arching shots actually draws iron. Out of Curry’s 45 points on Thursday, eight of them were 3’s. Most all of said 3’s could be traced back to a creative dibble series that allowed him to slip free of double teams and find a window from which to launch another bomb from. His celebrations were on point two, as they usually are. And the Oracle crowd boiled over once again, this time breaking into well-deserved chants of “M-V-P, M-V-P…”
By the time the first segment of TNT’s postgame show went to its first commercial break, it was clear Shaq had already finished his first glass of Curry Kool-Aid and had ordered another round. Meanwhile, Ernie Johnson, who has been through his fair share of “40 Games in 40 Nights,” was just trying to keep everything in perspective. But over on the other side of the desk sat Isiah Thomas, lifetime cardholder of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boy era teams. “Come playoff time, everything isn’t going to be so free and easy. You know, just run around the court nice and loose and pop shots up,” explained Thomas. “In the playoffs things slow down, there is more pressure on each shot. It’s different.”
Coming from a guy who was tasked with containing the greatest ever, Michael Jordan, Isiah’s smiling sentiment on Curry come playoff time is tough to ignore, even for a Warriors fan wearing a We Believe shirt.
Fortunately, the debate of whether Chef Curry can continue to somehow pull off this high wire act all the way to the NBA Finals is what will make the next six some-odd weeks of basketball so invigorating to watch. Can he keep doing this? Can he keep casting 3’s from the depths of double teams only to splash the net, again? Can he continue to find space where there is none in the playoffs and whip no-look passes to Draymond and Bogut for another easy dunk? Can this furious train just keep on rolling until it meets LeBron, Delly and the Cavs? Is this what we as Warriors fans should now comfortably expect? Or should we listen to Isiah Thomas.
That’s for you to decide I suppose. But for now, there’s no arguing that you should go ahead and enjoy the moment. There are three games left, all on Warriors Ground, and Curry already has made 276 3-pointers on the year. Ray Allen, aka Jesus Shuttlesworth, once hit 269 3-pointers in a season. No man has ever done better than that, except for Steph. Twice.
In 38 games in Oakland this year, the Warriors have won 36 of them. They are on pace to go 41 and 2 at Oracle Arena this year. That is insane. When the Warriors sadly move across the bay to a shiny new arena with all the corporate bells and whistles, there will inevitably be story after story about that wild year in 2015 when the Warriors had their Oakland faithful worked into a frenzy night after night. When a skinny kid from Davidson College won the MVP, not because he was the best player or the best athlete, but because he literally almost never missed a shot.
To Isiah’s credit, you know what he must be thinking. You can almost see him racking his brain and comparing the Steph of 2015 to the Jordan of 1991. This guy Curry can’t be that good, man. Unless he is…