I thought these Golden State Warriors were immune to hiccupping in crunch time but, wow, what a choke job in Salt Lake City in the first two games. I wanted to be nice about this, but the more I look at the first two games of the series I keep saying the Warriors should be up 2-0.
I am not like Charles Barkley. I happen to love the Bay Area. I used to travel there every time I got a chance when I played for the Sacramento Kings. Right now there has to be a dark cloud over the city. The Warriors should have the decency to at least hold up the image of the downtrodden Dallas Mavericks.
Where’s the team that made plays against the Mavericks at will? But hold up... Did they?
Hmmm, let’s reflect back a minute.
Well, the Game 1 victory against Dallas was indeed a barn-burner. The Warriors held up under pressure and rode the great play of Baron Davis, but since then it’s been suspect when the games have been close.
Remember Game 5 against Dallas? The Warriors had almost a double-figure lead with few minutes left. Dirk Nowitzki went crazy and the Warriors lost composure down the stretch.
Well, here we go again. I will concede the Game 1 loss to Utah, but Game 2 was extremely disappointing. The Warriors had a nice lead late in the game and had a chance to seal the victory by executing the only thing on the basketball court where the opposing team can’t play defense: shooting a free throw.
Where is Mark Price, Calvin Murphy and Rick Barry when you need them? I know it drives me nuts when guys miss key free throws, but those guys must start throwing dishes when they see it.
Mickael Pietrus looked like he was facing a firing squad when he threw his two bricks and Davis, who is showing everyone how great a player he can be, missed one out of two and a chance to put the Warriors up three points later.
What really added insult to injury was the fact that Andris Biedrins, who might be the worst free-throw shooter I have ever seen other than Ben Wallace, made both of his to increase the Warriors lead.
This is a pattern that seems to be quite obvious and Utah has feasted on the weakness.
Keep the Warriors in a close game and you can beat them because of silly mistakes like Baron Davis not pushing the ball up the middle of the floor and instead stepping out of bounds on the sideline. This is all about fatigue. And the Warriors, who only play seven guys, seem to be tiring late in games.
So what should the Warriors do? What seems to be the answer to their woes?
Blow the Jazz out in Game 3 and 4 – which they will do. The Jazz are terrible on the road despite their Game 7 victory in Houston.
The Warriors and their crowd will be in rare form this weekend. The Warriors will ride the emotion of their crowd and abuse the Jazz and send the series back to Utah 2-2.
The Jazz might look like the better team in the series because they are up 2-0, but the Warriors have made things easy for the Jazz to grab the first two games.
Here are the keys...
The Warriors need to shut down Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. Both players struggled on the road in the Houston series and I expect the same this time around. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer will continue to flourish because they are fearless and Derek Fisher will cause problems with his defense.
They also need a good weekend out of Monta Ellis, who has looked intimidated and lost, to finally play like the Most Improved Player. Al Harrington has to rebound and keep Boozer off the offensive glass.
I picked the Jazz in seven games and I am sticking with it. But how can I not root for the Warriors? Although they quite frankly drive me crazy.
But I love it!