Blowouts and injuries do not make for fun basketball. Even though most of the games weren’t worth watching, the chalk results finally gave us the 1 – 2 match up between the Warriors and the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Please save us WCF as the ECF will likely not be competitive.
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (5) Utah Jazz
To as honest as Michael Pena’s character in Shooter tied up and drugged on truth serum with a suicide gun machine attached to his hand, I didn’t watch a lot of the Warriors/Jazz series. The Warriors swept the Jazz in 4 easy games winning by an average margin of victory of 15 points. I like the Jazz roster made up of Iso Joe, Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, George Hill, Boris Diaw, Derrick Favors, and Joe Ingles, but a good roster that won 50 games in the West is merely a formality for one of the best teams in NBA history.
The real story with the Warriors is the health of Steve Kerr. He hasn’t coached since the first series and reports are suggesting he won’t coach again these playoffs and may never coach again. Complications from his back surgery are preventing him from coaching a historic team. That has to be painful, literal pain from his back and mental pain from having his role on the team diminished. Mike Brown is a NBA caliber coach but he isn’t Steve Kerr. A team like the Warriors doesn’t need a spectacular coach but it is my ignorant opinion that the Warriors are capable of playing at 95% of their ceiling which will win most games but Steve Kerr has the ability to get them to that 100% level which will make them impossible to defeat. Tough break for Steve Kerr.
(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (3) Houston Rockets
I was already wrapped in a warm blanket close to the state of unconsciousness where I dream of a better and fulfilling life late Tuesday night when my friend sent a message notifying me the Rockets/Spurs game was getting dramatic. I shook off the drowsiness and booted up the game on my phone. Game 5 went into overtime and the Spurs pulled away to win the game by 3. James Harden played absolutely terrible in overtime turning the ball over and getting stuffed by 40 year old Manu Ginobili at the buzzer (Manu looked fresh and athletic in this series).
Harden played even worse in game 6 where the Rockets were blown out by a score of 114 – 75 in Houston. The Spurs were without Tony Parker who got injured in game 2 and is out for the season, and they were without Kawhi Leonard who sprained his ankle in game 5. All season the Rockets lowest point total was 92 and they only went 5 games without scoring 100 points. In game 6 Harden only had 10 points on 2-11 shooting. Many have noted a pattern in Harden’s play in high pressure situations. He has shit the bed about as hard as a player can shit in big games dating back to his days at Arizona State, the 2012 finals with OKC, and now in the semi-finals with the Rockets.
The inconsistent and often bad Aldridge played great in game 6 scoring 34 points with 12 rebounds. He will be the determining factor in the Spurs success against the Warriors. He needs to play closer to rim with a more balanced game than just shooting long fade away two pointers.