NBA

Warriors lose focus, win by double digits again

It’s not a competitive series when you find yourself giggling at first half occurrences. Whether it was Kevin Durant getting an easy rip-through foul against Gordon Hayward (a comically overmatched defender in that scenario), or a multi-pass sequence that resulted in yet another easy layup/dunk for Andre Iguodala, or one of the many Draymond Green threes, this game almost seemed like basketball satire.

This is the playoffs? The Warriors have won blowouts in previous postseasons, but it’s never looked quite this easy.

And that degree of difficulty, low as it can be at times, is the only way the pendulum is going to swing in the opposite direction in this series. When the boredom hits, Warriors are merely good, not brilliant. When the boredom hits, they often look a little careless and/or reckless instead of ruthlessly precise.

We saw boredom creep in, but not until Golden State wouldn’t let Utah so much as breathe in the first quarter. The Warriors took a 33-15 lead, Oracle was loud, and it was easy to wonder if a series against a damaged and shorthanded Clippers team would’ve been more entertaining simply due to the personalities involved.

What followed was some fairly mediocre basketball by Warriors standards — punctuated with a dunk here, and a 3-pointer there whenever the Jazz made the game semi-close — and a 115-104 win to take a 2-0 series lead.

Both Steph Curry, who doesn’t exactly fear anyone on the Jazz when he has the ball in his hands, and Green, who gave everyone a scare when his knee “locked up” on him (he returned to the bench and eventually the game after a brief locker room visit), said the Warriors “lost focus” at times during this one. Don’t blame Mike Brown for this, because the Warriors would’ve lost focus if Steve Kerr was in his familiar spot in front of the bench, harassing officials.

This is a normal course of events for a dominant title favorite during a run-of-the-mill playoff game in the first two rounds, particularly at home.

  1. Ferocious opening punch
  2. Mid-game malaise, with unforced errors seemingly made on purpose to provide some semblance of a challenge
  3. Head coach and key players face several versions of this question after the game: Why didn’t y’all win by 80?

If Green’s knee doesn’t keep him from playing his usual allotment of minutes in Game 3, the only question is whether the Warriors will snap out of this boredom phase — or, if it will even matter. My guess is the crowd in Salt Lake City will serve as a cold splash of water to their faces, the Warriors will beat the Jazz on Saturday with a late run, and then Golden State will crush Utah’s will to fight in the first quarter of Game 4. Yes, much like what happened in Portland in a series that feels like it was over a month ago. There’s a pattern to these things when a team is as good as the Warriors are.

Dub Steps

— The Jazz have no chance in this series unless they go nuts on the offensive glass. The Warriors were out-rebounded in Game 1, but returned the favor in Game 2, grabbing 9 offensive rebounds and 47 total, while the Jazz ended up with 39 rebounds, 5 on the offensive end.

— Durant led the Warriors in rebounds with 11, all defensive. He also had 7 assists and just 1 turnover, and 25 points on 13 shots because he went 13-for-15 from the line.

— The Warriors are breezing past these teams while Andre Iguodala can’t make a three (0-for-3 in Game 2, 0-for-9 in the series, 0-for-18 in the playoffs).

— The Warriors’ athleticism is just too much early, especially against a team starting Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert. Gobert is obviously a difference-making defender, but the Warriors’ blend of speed and length leads to bad things for Utah. That’s why Brown subbed Iguodala in for Zaza Pachulia a little earlier than usual in the third quarter. When in doubt, step on the gas.

— Play of the game: Green stifling Gobert’s alley-oop finish attempt on Utah’s first offensive possession.

— Play of the game (runner-up): Green charging right at Gobert and getting the and-one with a powerful finish. Gobert may have nothing against Green, but Green feels like Gobert might steal the trophy that is rightfully his.

Yeah, this one:

Green’s numbers through six playoff games … well, they’re just absurd: 15.5 ppg on 50.9% shooting (54.5% on threes!), 8.8 rpg, 7.0 apg, 2.2 spg, 3.3 bpg. And just 2.2 turnovers per game for good measure.

— Quote of the game:

— Quote of the game (runner-up): “You know, that was pretty good.” – Green on out-rebounding the Michigan Wolverines (the entire team) a couple of days after his knee “locked up” on him.

https://youtu.be/H55qcUdOjxA

— This didn’t happen tonight, but Klay Thompson (who hasn’t really done much of note in the playoffs so far) completely blanked out earlier today. He was probably thinking about something else (Rocco) while giving a rote answer about something or other, and the result was Klay perfection.

He should’ve been wearing this shirt after shootaround.

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MANUEL SANCHEZ
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MANUEL SANCHEZ

Where can I buy each one of those shirts? Need them both in my life.

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