SIMPLY, the chief motivation for the Golden State Warriors when they played the Utah Jazz yesterday was to win by hook or by crook.
By winning as they did—Steph Curry fired 30 points—the Warriors matched the 4-0 result scored by the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Toronto Raptors on Monday in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
By winning as they did, the Warriors proved once again that they are as good and as deadly as the Cavaliers.
And, by winning as they did, the Warriors, to my reckoning, might have inflicted a huge psychological wound on the minds of the Cavaliers.
For, by also completing a 4-0 sweep to tie Cleveland’s overall 8-0 playoff tallies, Golden State could as well yell on the defending champs, at the top of their lungs even: “Hey, fellas, if you can do it, we can do it, too!”
There is nothing like hype in a much-anticipated return bout for last year’s finalists.
And, whether we like it or not, all roads lead to another Warrior-Cavalier collision course for the 2017 National Basketball Association (NBA) crown.
Cleveland awaits the winner in the Boston-Washington duel and Golden State is on standby for the victor in the San Antonio-Houston encounter. Both matchups are tied 2-2.
But whoever would advance against Cleveland in the Eastern Finals and Golden State in the Western Showdown, it is almost a given that the Cavaliers and the Warriors would both ultimately prevail again.
Cleveland clipped Golden State last year for a number of reasons, the most significant one being the spectacular block by LeBron James on Draymond Green’s dunk that ultimately keyed the Cavaliers’ breakthrough victory.
In fact, so dramatic and emphatic was James’s rejection after a hellish chase on the streaking Green that LeBron’s defensive stop was selected the NBA Play of the Year.
Last year’s main actors from both teams are still around and are as fit as ever, as well.
There’s Cleveland’s championship trio of James, Kyle Irving and Kevin Love, and Golden State’s 2016 terrible troika of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green.
But, wait a minute. Haven’t the Warriors won on their side the prolific Kevin Durant, whose departure from Oklahoma City Thunder this season left Russell Westbrook hopelessly mired in misery?
Well, if it’s any consolation, while the Thunder got snuffed out, Westbrook ended up as the league’s triple-double king of all time. And if he should beat Houston’s James Harden for MVP honors this year, I can only agree.
Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the remaining semifinal games between Houston-San Antonio and Boston-Washington. They aren’t the main menu, yes, but for appetizers, they sure, still taste good.
As always, most NBA playoff games are caviar-like.
THAT’S IT Was TNT import Donday Greene not properly briefed on how to deal with Philippine Basketball Association referees? Obviously, yes. TNT officials had goofed on this? Greene got canned for criticizing officiating in the recent San Miguel Beer-TNT game won by SMB—a league no-no. Promptly, PBA Commish Chito Narvasa threw the book on Greene. Justified.