You can exhale now. The Golden State Warriors are no longer not a playoff team.
But now you can inhale again, because you are Warrior fans, and you furrow brows that needn’t be furrowed just because you have been conditioned over the years to expect the red chair that gets thrown backward when you sit down (with apologies to Graham Norton).
We know this because two nights before they cuffed the brutal Minnesota Timberwolves, they lost at home to a better Utah team, and the we’re-gonna-blow-this panic oozed from every screen of every laptop.
[Instant Replay: Warriors 105, Timberwolves 89]
But we don’t judge, we merely observe. And what we have observed is that, like it or not, Warrior fans cannot rejoice in the simpler things, like no longer being 11th. They believe too much, too hard, and they will enter the playoffs frantically dissecting the matchups that confront them for proof that they can be the new Oklahoma City Thunder.
Which I suppose, if you drink enough, you can believe. After all, there were some people in Houston in 1995 who thought the same thing, the poor deluded bastards.
And they were right.
Those 1995 Rockets were the only six-seed since the invention of six-seeds to emerge from the shameful morass of the playoff underworld to win an NBA title. They crawled past Utah, Phoenix and San Antonio, and then swept the still-nascent Orlando Magic in the final.
In fairness, of course, they were defending champions, so this wasn’t uncharted hiking they were doing. Plus Michael Jordan was still getting his booty blocked by Double-A curve balls, so the Bulls were no factor.
But they did it as a six, and that’s the point. Plus, they got to the finals 14 years earlier as a six before being slapped down by the Larry Bird Celtics. That’s when the six-seed wasn’t so much of a much, of course.
Now though it is, and only eight six-seeds since 1995 have even won a series, and none more than one – that’s out of 34. The average six-seed has won two games per postseason since then, which means . . .
. . . yes, the Warriors are fighting both their own inconsistent selves, history, and the notion that teams do not leap in one bound to untrammeled glory. And you should temper your own enthusiasm thusly.
No, honest. You really should. Every known metric beyond the slug-of-gin-and-hope-for-the-lotto-fairy-to-come-knocking says the Warriors will be one and done. And you should by all logic by happy with that one. You all promised you would be when this started back in November.
The Warriors work with the seven and eight seeds is even less promising, the We Believe pixie dust trip of Ought-Seven notwithstanding, but the point remains the same. If you want your expectations to be met, plan for a brief but enjoyable entry into the world of the relevant. A first rewarding step of what you may fervently hope will be many more.
If you want the big dream, of course, channel the Rockets, but plan on reinventing Andrew Bogut as Hakeem Olajuwon. The Warriors are, and I swear to go this is true because I checked twice, 7-20 against fellow playoff teams since the first of the year. That’s not a great indicator, and there are others too nerdible to go through here, but that doesn’t make what they did do any less laudable. This was a historical, cultural and just plain fun/wacky achievement.
And remember, that’s all you said you wanted – a turn in the playoffs. So remember to be happy, and don’t sweat the small stuff like what comes next. Take anything after this as an extra prezzie on your birthday.
In other words, keep your heads. Greed goeth before a fall. Remember it was five years since the last one, and 12 years since the one before that. You just got a pony, so don’t start bitching your parents about a saddle.