Warriors Confidential: Absoring the Hate, Winning In OKC, Playoff Berth

Our basketball writers converse about all things Warriors

This past week there has been a lot of Warriors non-love from Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas. Phil Jackson got his jab in saying Curry is like Chris Jackson/ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Chris Webber handed out a backhanded compliment while sticking firmly to the view that the Warriors, Curry in particular, in a different era, couldn’t handle being roughed up. Fair?

C.J. Hampshire: Yes and no. The rules were different so I agree. It does matter if someone is allowed to jam you up while you are about to launch your shot. The guards were bigger 20 years ago because they had to be. But, I disagree with the premise. It’s all leading down the same road to say that Steph isn’t great because…fill in the blank. He’s too small, he doesn’t defend, he’s just a three point shooter.

Mallory Stith-Wheat: What did Oscar say? Today you are a great player if you dunk and shoot threes. We’ve heard that about dunking before, that dunking the ball is a derivative of athleticism and not skill. But three point shooting? Last I heard, no one was cracking on Ray Allen, saying he wasn’t that good because he just took threes. Or Reggie Miller. Major disrespect. Phil Jackson’s comment made me laugh out loud. I haven’t heard Mahmoud’s name in like a decade.

Alex Khalifa: I still don’t think the Warriors are hated or as polarizing as the Heat were with LeBron.

Brendan Gillespie: The difference with the Heat is that Hall of Famers weren’t attacking how they played, what their basketball identity was. They were bent out of shape about how they got together, the teaming up with friends. But no one has ever been dismissive of LeBron or Wade or Bosh as players, outside of the normal why didn’t he do this in a game, or why did he do that? With Curry, the old guys feel they have to protect a way of life that they see drifting away. While everything they say is true, it was more physical and it’s hard to score the way Curry is scoring with someone using you like a punching bag, it’s not a great look for them. Except for the Zen Master. He can talk all the Curry smack he wants. He coached MJ to 6 titles. I like him protecting his guy.

Is Stephen Jackson guilty of nostalgic history. The way I remember it, the 2007 Warriors team was a mediocre regular season team with their best moment in the playoffs when they stunned the Mavs. Having more “heart” than this Warriors team? Really?

C.J.: In April of 2007, the Mavs were the best team in the NBA. They came into Oracle. It was game number 81. ¬†Avery Johnson sits all his stars. For rest? No. He wanted the Warriors to win. Why? The Warriors were fighting the Clippers for that last spot. The Mavs wanted to play the Warriors because they basically rolled over them in their previous matchups. That same night, the Clippers were playing Memphis. They lost. The Mavs got what they wanted. The Warriors won, meaning they’d be their first round opponent. So if Stephen Jackson wants to talk about a team with no heart, talk about the 2007 Mavericks who were afraid of the Clippers.

Alex: I think Jackson is wrong but there’s going to be an emotional attachment to a Cinderella story like that first round matchup.

Brendan: When you go through what that 2007 team went through, knocking off a team with the MVP, having a special two weeks, of course you think it’s better than what it really was. The bottom line is that they won one series in the playoffs. The Warriors “heart” only showed up after the All-Star break when they had to gut out some wins just to get into the playoffs. It carried over. But Avery Johnson showed his fear in Game 1 when he changed his lineup. The Warriors of 2007 did have heart. But the Mavs were scared. This year’s Warriors are dominating to the extent that a game like last night happens. If that isn’t heart I don’t know what is.

Mallory: I get what he is saying. The 2007 team had the guts to do something miraculous. But when someone says you have “heart”, it means that you were counted out and you rose to the occasion. You were the underdog. This year’s team has a lot of heart but it is displayed differently. They are never the underdog. They are the champions. They refuse to lose. They come back from double digit deficits. They trust each other in critical situations. Why is that not “heart”?

Last night’s game in OKC: Explain yourself Kevin Durant. Explain yourself Steph Curry.

Julian Billick: I refuse to buy into the greatest regular season game hype. The Warriors won because Kevin Durant had a brain freeze. How long has he been playing this game? When you are trapped, you call a timeout.

Mallory: Curry’s last shot was sensational and so Curry-like, including the dance. But what was Roberson doing giving him so much space? That game only solidified my opinion that the Thunder aren’t getting to the Finals. Their decision making is really, really bad. I think Durant may jump ship to the Warriors after that debacle.

C.J.: I wrote an article in December about Curry breaking Kobe’s 3-point record this season. He tied it last night, but it is going to happen. It was sweet that the tie was on a game winner. Hate his game all you want. He’s not Jordan, the two-way player, but he has Jordan’s flair for the dramatic. C’mon Thunder. Take the ball out his hands.

Brendan: Kevin Durant reminds me of LeBron in 2010 when he left Cleveland. He always comes up the loser in these games. He had a big shot then made a big mistake and then fouled out. He gagged.

The Warriors clinched a playoff spot when the Rockets lost. It’s not March yet. They still have 6 games remaining with the Thunder, Clippers and Spurs. Can they be stopped?

Brendan: No. The Clippers haven’t beaten the Warriors in two years. The Spurs have a chance to get a victory at home because they have shooters that the Thunder don’t. The Thunder aren’t going to beat the Warriors this year. They don’t have enough scorers. Warriors in the Finals. They will break the record. Unfortunately.

C.J.: They have a home friendly schedule so it should be pretty easy from here on out until they go to San Antonio. That said, feakish things happen. Curry twisted his ankle last night. Another one of those and who knows? It’s all very fragile in the NBA because of injuries.

Mallory: No. They will not be stopped.

Julian: They will be tested but not stopped until the Western Conference Finals. I’m not 100% convinced they get to the Finals. They are going to have competition. Yes, they are going to break the Bulls record. Curry is going to break Kobe’s 3-point record. But will they be the first Western Conference team to repeat since Kobe’s Lakers in 2010? I’ll go out on a limb and say no.

photo via llananba