I’ll preface this with a nod toward the jinx police. Yes, I’m aware that the Warriors and Sharks are in the early stages of two playoff series that could easily swing the other way, and whether or not that occurs has nothing to do with what’s written by me or anybody else.
But last week — which was full of battles between Northern and Southern California professional teams — went really, really well for the region that doesn’t say “the 101” or “the 5” when referring to highways.
It started Monday, when pinch-hitter John Jason hit a two-run homer in the ninth as the A’s beat the Angels 3-2. The A’s won 10-9 in eleven innings the next day, then fell 5-4 on Wednesday. Oakland is now five games ahead of third place Los Angeles of Anaheim after sweeping the Astros over the weekend.
The Giants effectively did the same thing, playing three one-run games and winning two of them. The only difference was while the A’s and Angels combined for 33 runs, the Giants and Dodgers scored just 11 in their three-game set that spanned 11-plus hours.
Still, baseball teams are totally fine with the knowledge that they’ll all lose at least 60 games unless they’re historically good, so winning a series in any way possible is all one can hope for. So, in the words of KNBR’s afternoon host, “Suck it, L.A.”
Mr. Tolbert was at Staples Center for the Warriors’ 109-105 victory over the Clippers in Game 1 of their first round series. I already wrote about the game and how Andre Igoudala said the team is trying to “save our coach.” There were a few extra things of note about that game.
1. Clippers fans are terrible. I’ve never seen the Warriors play in a building other than Oracle Arena until Saturday, and it’s weird watching an NBA game when the PA system is louder than the crowd. There were some Warriors fans there, but not a lot. However, the ones wearing blue and gold were easily heard throughout the game. Granted, they had more to cheer for. But it’s never a good look when the home team repeatedly raises their arms to get the crowd going, as Matt Barnes and Glen Davis did. Barnes had a hard time getting the fans behind the basket to get rowdy when the Warriors were taking fourth quarter free throws with the game in the balance. Could you imagine a Warriors player being forced to do that at Oracle?
2. This is a problem at all NBA arenas, but the amount of sound pumped through the speakers during the game is out of control at Staples. They play some kind of song or applause-generator during every … single … possession. And once a timeout is called, some woman comes out and says “Clipper Nation” a million times. I think I mentioned that last part already, but it’s still bugging me. “Hey Clipper Nation, do you remember the halfcourt shot Jamal Crawford made? What do you think about that, Clipper Nation?” Just thinking about it makes me want to reenact Colin Kaepernick’s Beats commercial.
3. Yesterday the NBA said Chris Paul was fouled by Draymond Green on the play where the Warriors were awarded possession after review. Why haven’t I written about this yet? Because I think it’s ridiculous. Was that play more important than all the other botched calls during that game, just because it happened near the end? Did the NBA go back and say, “Hey Golden State, sorry about that foul we called on Mo Speights when J.J. Redick bounced off him and threw himself to the floor. And we’d also like to apologize to both teams, because Andre Iguodala and Blake Griffin got whistled for some ticky-tack fouls that probably shouldn’t have been called either.” Of course not, but the NBA probably only made the admission on the Green/Paul play to provide evidence that they need to revamp their replay system and allow refs to call fouls after the fact.
The Clippers will probably get the benefit of some pretty favorable officiating tonight and win fairly easily. But just like winning two-of-three in baseball is the goal, getting a road split in the beginning of an NBA Playoffs series is all any lower-seeded team is looking for. And since “Beat L.A. Week” started on Monday and ended yesterday, the Warriors end the week undefeated against their SoCal rivals.
The regional beat-down was capped last night when the Sharks crushed the Kings with seven unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0, giving San Jose a 2-0 series lead over Los Angeles after winning the first two games by a combined score of 13-5. The Sharks only scored 10 goals against Jonathan Quick and the Kings in the 2012 Western Conference semis, which went to seven games.
It’s well known around these parts that I am FAR from a hockey expert … but after watching these two games it seems like the Sharks have a ridiculous number of highly skilled players. With Raffi Torres and Tomas Hertl back, the team *seems* (again, not a hockey expert) to be the most stacked in franchise history as far as goal-scorers are concerned. My laughable pucks knowledge aside, anyone could tell that the Sharks look far superior to the Kings as of right now, and their degree of dominance may have been the most surprising thing to come out of a fantastic bragging rights week for the greater Bay Area.