Let the drama begin
Relax. Take a breath. Everything’s going to be all right.
The Warriors took a beating in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, but what did you expect?
More importantly, what did you want?
The Houston Rockets were the NBA’s best in the regular season, winning 65 games and locking down home-court
advantage throughout the playoffs. Did you expect them to lie down? Did you want them to?
I hope not. After the Warriors snatched the home-court advantage by winning Game 1 in Houston, it looked like this might be a cakewalk series. The “real” Warriors had arrived and it
was only a matter of time.
Instead, the “very real” Rockets showed up for Game 2, and we have ourselves a good old-fashioned showdown. The two best gunslingers in town, facing off, spursa-jinglin’.
“We always talk about what we do great and what they do great; something’s gotta give,” the Warriors’ Stephen Curry said after the loss. “Now we’ve got to go home and recalculate, figure out how to get the momentum back on our side. Get our home crowd into it, and (we) should be in good shape.”
Hallelujah. If you’re any kind of basketball fan, that’s what you should be rooting for. Competition at the highest level. Sure, it’s stress-free to watch your team roll through one opponent after another. (See, 2017 NBA playoffs, Warriors, 16-1). But every great champion needs a foil. And Golden State has found its other half in Houston.
Did it ever. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr didn’t mince words Wednesday night: “They kicked our butts. No other way to say it.
“They got the game exactly where they wanted it tonight. They got everybody going. They got everybody involved. The exact opposite of Game 1. So give them credit. They brought it. They got it done.”
Now, we’ll see how things play out. There should be plenty of tension on the court for Game 3 in Oakland on Sunday. Here’s hoping there’s some great basketball, too.
Let’s face it. These are the actual NBA Finals. It’s been fun to watch LeBron James carry his Cavs through the Eastern Conference bracket. And Brad Stevens is working miracles in Boston. But, regardless
“Now we’ve got to go home and recalculate, figure out how to get the momentum back on our side. Get our home crowd into it.”
Stephen Curry, Warriors guard
of who prevails there, neither of those teams can stand up to the Warriors. And they probably can’t beat the Rockets, either.
So, if you were hoping to see some great basketball at some point this season, now’s the time. The regular season and first two rounds of the playoffs were one long warmup for the main event. That’s a long time to wait for a bout. Who wants to see a TKO in the second round?
Not me. I believe the true fan experience is heightened by uncertainty, anxiety and concern. (Then again, I grew up in Cleveland.) Sounds like the Warriors feel the same way.
“That’s kind of how a series like this is going to be,” said Curry, who didn’t play well in Game 2’s 127-105 loss. “Game after game, it’s going to be a chess match. Tonight, we just didn’t make enough plays to stop the momentum in this building, and that was the difference in the game . ... So we’ve got to be ready for that kind of aggressiveness from them in Game 3 and keep doing what we’re doing.”
OK. He’s saying all the right things. But the proof will come when the ball goes up. Can Curry regain his magic touch? Is he injured? Will Klay Thompson score more than eight points? Can Draymond Green hold down his infamous temper? Will the Beard persevere?
All those questions and more will be answered over the course of this series. Remember: This is what you wanted. A true test for the Warriors.
As a journalist, I have no horse in this race. I root for tension, conflict and resolution. It’s the recipe for any great story. Let it be told.
Andre Iguodala (9) of the Warriors tangles with the Rockets’ P.J. Tucker after a free throw in Game 2, which Houston dominated 127-105 to even the series and raise the tension level.