I would have loved to have watched this game at home, and to have it on tape. Instead, due to the dark alchemies of pipes, drywall, microbes and time, I was once again forced to watch from a sportsbar — the Fiddler’s Green in San Rafael, with their fine selection of Belgian beers and Irish whiskeys.
And for some reason, my recollection of this game, and in particular the second half, is foggy. I remember very well the game starting off at the Warriors pace. Perhaps the fastest pace we’ve seen all season.
I remember very well Mark Jackson trying to rectify his mistake of game 6, and starting the game by calling Klay Thompson’ number.
I remember very well the return of the Curry/Lee pick and roll, and how fabulously it worked in creating open shots, with Lee playing point guard in the middle of the floor.
I also remember very well Lee in the high post, running UCLA, pulling DeAndre Jordan all the way out of the lane, and finding Iggy posted up on Redick in the lane.
And I remember the Warriors ending the first half up 8.
These are things I have clear memories of. What I don’t remember is why it all ended in the second half. Why the pace ground to a halt, and the offense stopped clicking. Was it simply that the Clippers turned up the heat? Or did the Warriors get away from what worked so well in the first half?
For the first time this season, I find myself in need of a recap.
The Officiating: I wrote in the previous thread how the style in which this game was officiated would go a long ways towards determining its outcome. And to my amazement, the officiating came down solidly on the side of the Warriors. They let the big men play. And behold, Lee and Green avoided foul trouble, and the ball was rebounded, and the Warriors ran like the wind and rained threes.
They also called Chris Paul for fouling Curry in the act of shooting a three pointer, and caught the Clippers grabbing and bodying Curry on his drives.
It was like the officials were determined to rectify every previous wrong in the series. Those 16 free throws were not due to Curry deciding to do something different in this game than he had in the previous games.
The Pace: I thought the pace with which the Warriors opened this game was the fastest all season. You can see that reflected in the final score, obviously.
Unfortunately, their beautiful first quarter run was interrupted by some ghastly open-court turnovers. I strongly suspect that these were due to the Warriors playing at a faster pace than they were used to.
What if they had played this way the entire season, instead of walking the ball up like the middle of the pack teams?
Curry: Finally put up the kind of stat line the media wanted from him. But if you ask me, the Warriors relied a little too much on hero ball down the stretch, when what worked in the first half — and in previous games — may have worked better.
Have to mention his defense, because nobody else will. He worked extremely hard on that end, and those steals down the stretch helped keep the Warriors in the game.
Klay: The Clippers were determined not to leave him open, which lead to a lot of drives, which lead to his 7 assists. Not a playmaker?
6 free throws, but it could have been more. I remember in particular a drive in which he was confronted by Jordan at the basket. Rather than leaning into the contact to get the foul, Klay leaned away, extending his left arm as far away from possible, and attempting a Curryesque dipsy-do.
In the playoffs, you got to take that hit.
Lee: I came away vaguely disappointed by this performance, as I’m sure Lee himself was. He was not a factor offensively in crunchtime. And had a bad turnover down the stretch.
But is it fair to remember Lee’s performance this way? Here is where I miss being able to review the game tape. What kind of offense were the Warriors running down the stretch? I think they went away from pick and roll, and the high post. I know his turnover occurred on an isolation post-up, which is not the best way to use him against this Clippers front line.
I also note his team high 13 rebounds, despite having to battle DeAndre Jordan. And I note his team high +7. Clearly David Lee does things for his team that go unnoticed by pundits and fans alike. Including me.
The drumbeat of the ridiculous meme of Lee’s expendability is again growing loud. But it’s not Harrison Barnes who is his obvious replacement this year, but Draymond Green.
I’ll point out what is obvious to me. Draymond Green is not a starting power forward. Do you really expect the Warriors to double team every time they face Blake Griffin, or Kevin Love, or LaMarcus Aldridge, or Zach Randolph, or…?
And did you happen to miss Draymond Green putting a hand on his back, and grimacing while attempting to stretch his back out, on the free throw line in this game 7?
82 games of that and he’d be ground to a pulp. Draymond Green is a great player, yes. But he’s not a starting power forward.
Green: Just like him to have his best performance of the season, in the biggest game of the season. I can still hear Bob Fitzgerald whining dolefully in my ear: “I just don’t think threes are Draymond’s game….”
He’s going to be in the league a long time. The next Shane Battier.
Iggy: Got out-played by JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford in the biggest game of the season.
Which is kind of the playoff rap against him, isn’t it?
Jermaine O’Neal: His attempted incarnation of Willis Reed fell flat. His appearance was disastrous for the Warriors: -6 in 3 minutes. Would have been -8 if pulled after 2.
Did he really need to play in this game? Yes. Mark Jackson was paying tribute to his ancient warrior. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Crawford: Once again, played the sixth man. Looked like he got it going a bit in this game. Liked the look of the Curry/Crawford backcourt, with Crawford playing the point. Liked the way the Warriors could push the tempo with him. Why didn’t Mark Jackson accept him onto the team in this role? And what would have happened if he’d gotten every one of Harrison Barnes’ minutes in this game?
I mourn the loss of what could have been, this season.
Mokur: Found his shot in this game. Let it fly, with no thinking. +2. Could have played more minutes, in my opinion. Could have started on Blake Griffin, in my opinion.
Mokur was Mokur.
And I rest my case.
Barnes: The coup de grace fell due to Barnes being late on a defensive rotation, and helplessly watching a DeAndre Jordan slam.
Provoking this death-squeal on twitter: “Why the hell is Barnes in in crunch-time?”
Mark Jackson: Haven’t been a great fan of his performance this season, but have to say I admired what he did in this game.
Admired the game plan. Admired the pace with which the Warriors played. Admired, for the most part, the rotations. Greatly admired the ensemble, and particularly that tie.
God go with you, Mark Jackson.
Thus ends my requiem.