Friday, July 20, 2018
Sports

If Warriors don't rally, critics will tear them apart

Inside the cramped Golden State Warriors locker room in Oklahoma City late Tuesday night, there was deflation bordering on a sense of utter disbelief. Players dressed in silence, blankly staring into smartphones, looking for answers, or perhaps it was sympathy.

Andre Iguodala slumped in his seat, wearing a yellow T-shirt that read: "Strength in Numbers." Except the numbers were all trending the wrong way for the Warriors, the defending NBA champions, who were suddenly in a 3-1 Western Conference final ditch, looking up at an Oklahoma City Thunder team that had taken more than the two games in successive blowouts at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Within 48 hours, the Thunder had stolen their identity — a team all season tagged as irrepressible, unstoppable and irresistible, and now just bewildered by the beatdowns they'd had to endure.

The Warriors' record-setting 73-victory season was officially on the brink, and no amount of pronouncements that the series wasn't over could dispute the Thunder's budding ascendancy, or Russell Westbrook's dominance, largely at the expense of a struggling Stephen Curry.

Klay Thompson, who gave Golden State a fighting chance in Game 4 with a third-quarter outburst, glanced at a box score of the 118-94 defeat.

"I mean, we had 40 assists; that's a positive," he said.

In the interview room, he took another look at the sheet in front of him. "No, never mind," he said. "Fifteen. Way off."

Fifteen measly assists from a team celebrated for its ball movement, its sharing, or four more than Westbrook alone.

Curry, the two-time league MVP, paled next to Westbrook, missing 14 of his 20 shots, turning the ball over six times, weaving little of the magic that had made him a global sensation.

Facing elimination at home in Oakland tonight, the Warriors also could soon be looking at a critical dissection of their collective achievements, from last season through this one.

In the build-them-up-and-tear-them-down culture that passes for talk show and Twitter disseminated entertainment, you just know that some people will be champing to reconsider the Warriors' 2015 playoff run.

There will be the predictable chortling from the Old Guy network, all the way back to Oscar Robertson, and especially from loyal defenders of the Michael Jordan generation.

Following up their franchise's first title since 1975, the Warriors had the audacity to better the record 72 regular-season victories claimed by Jordan's Chicago Bulls in 1995-96. Then Curry was unanimously voted MVP, a show of perfection Jordan was never afforded.

To a generation of his peers and fans, Jordan is the godfather of all that is historically great, and Curry has been the beneficiary of a sport gone soft. With all due respect, they say, he couldn't do what he has done in the era of hand-checking.

Charles Barkley, Jordan's inept golfing partner, weighed in by saying: "People think us old guys hate when we talk about it. ... But I've never seen the NBA as bad as it is, and I've been saying it the last three or four years."

Of course, that becomes an indirect indictment of the Warriors, a commentary on the quality of their competition, as if the Jordan-era didn't have teams not worth watching.

Yet the inalterable truth is that the 72-victory Bulls did punctuate their historic regular season by winning a championship over the Seattle SuperSonics.

Better than most, Warriors' coach Steve Kerr knows the harsh standards by which they will be judged if they do not rally, even if it was his contractual duty to dismiss the carry-over weight of the 73 wins. "To me, they are separate issues," he said. "We had a tremendous regular season."

He added, "In the playoffs, everybody starts 0-0."

New York Times

Comments
Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome shoots 78 in PGA Tour debut

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome survived her first round on the PGA Tour at the Barbasol Championship in Nicholasville, Ky., on Thursday, and she can't wait to do it again Friday.Though Lincicome shot 6-over 78 and will likely miss the cut — she ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Longtime Tampa Catholic athletic director Nick DiMaggio dies

Nick DiMaggio, the longtime athletic director at Tampa Catholic who was a fixture at the school's sporting events for more than 50 years, died Wednesday (July 18, 2018) from complications related to a stroke. He was 86."Nick was an icon, a walking en...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer wants the Rays to get going.Trade more veterans. Bring back Willy Adames and bring up the next group of kids. Get on with getting better, and get back to reaching the postseason, as they did four times over six yea...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Friday, July 20

TODAYAction sportsX Games9 p.m.ESPNArena FootballPhiladelphia at Baltimore7 p.m.CBSSNAutosMonster Energy Cup: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 qualifying4:30 p.m.NBCSNBaseballCardinals at Cubs2 p.m.MLBMarlins at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun, FSF; 620-AMMets at Yankee...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — His debut at the ACC kickoff attracted a wholly unsurprising assortment of topics. New FSU coach Willie Taggart was asked about his culture, his quarterbacks, his catch phrases.He handled each question deftly, hardly devi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays did not have any answers Thursday about the state of their catching situation as to how long Wilson Ramos will be out and who will be added to replace him Friday against the Marlins.Ramos was placed on the DL Wednesday...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

It was Dec. 20, 1981, the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, and the NFC Central title was on the line. The Buccaneers were in Detroit, where the Lions hadn’t lost all season.The Lions, who were favored by a touchdown, took a 7-3 lead in t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Judge grants ex-girlfriend’s restraining order against ex-Plant QB Robert Marve

Judge grants ex-girlfriend’s restraining order against ex-Plant QB Robert Marve

PLANT CITY — Robert Marve hesitated to get out of his attorney’s car when they pulled into the parking lot of the Plant City Courthouse on Thursday afternoon. The former Plant High and University of Miami quarterback was there to plead no contest to ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Willie Taggart: Francois’ offseason problems are ‘behind us’

Willie Taggart: Francois’ offseason problems are ‘behind us’

FSU coach Willie Taggart indicated Thursday the tumultuous offseason of QB Deondre Francois won't factor in to his quest for the starting job when preseason camp commences next month."He's handled his consequences behind that, and he's moved on," Tag...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provid...
Updated: 10 hours ago