First, the good news from today’s practices. There was no Dante Fowler, Jr., issue -– which is to say everyone escaped the hot new fad in sports: Season-ending injuries.
They also received no fines for fan abuse, as Matt Barnes ($50K for requesting a lewd act from James Harden’s mother) and Joakim Noah ($25K for pushing a fan without offering intimacy) were dunned in separate incidents after Game 2.
Instead, all they did Friday was endure one more review of the team they already know by heart (and conversely, the team that knows them equally well), the Memphis Grizzlies, and some half-interested third-day questions from the relentless caravan of mammalian unpleasants (pronounced “media”).
In other words, what you’ve always suspected is true. Days off, like everything else, are only good in moderation, and the less actual news there is, the better.
So the topics were relatively plowed ones, most notably when and why head coach Steve Kerr pulls Draymond Green for foul issues, and how he is already 0-for-2 in decision-making in this series.
“I don’t second-guess Game 2,” he said. “He got two fouls in three minutes, and that was pretty much a decision that made itself. But Game 1, he gets the second foul and I’m thinking about it, and I get David (Lee) up and he’s at the table but we don’t get a stoppage to get him in, and then Draymond gets his third.
“I don’t second-guess myself a lot about things like that. It’s just circumstantial, and you can do different things for different reasons and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and there is no set way to do it every time.”
Green’s foul issues have mattered because he has been the one guarding Zach Randolph, Memphis’ best player in Game 1 and nearly so again in Game 2. He may simply be the Grizzlies player who is going to get his game in and game out, because as Kerr said, “They’re NBA players, and great players do that. There are just some things that are going to happen the way they happen.”
But most of the other questions were of the macro variety, your “what adjustments did you make/what will you do differently” coaches-can-fix-everything inquiries that show if nothing else that nobody can overthink a series quite like media folks with two much time and not enough expense account on their hands.
And as for the “must-win” special that always gets asked before, well, every game, Kerr dismissed it with a contemptuous swat. “Until you have three losses, no game is a must-win game,” he said.
And that’s true, though Game 3s tend to a have tone-setting existence of their own. Over the last five years, the Game 3 winner is 44-21 overall, and in the conference semis (or the second round, as this actually is), the numbers skew higher than in any other round, at 15-5. The only Game 3 losers to advance were Cleveland over Boston in 2010, Boston over Miami in 2011, Indiana over Miami and the Los Angels Lakers over Oklahoma City in 2012, and Brooklyn over Miami in 2014.
So I guess that makes Game 3 a must-win for both teams, and the time of Draymond Green’s third foul is vital, and Klay Thompson’s needed return to form is elemental, and then, from the Sermon On The Mount the usual Be-Platitudes.
But if this helps, Kerr is very grateful he doesn’t have a player with five fractures in his hand or a coach yelling at reporters or players getting in beefs with fans. He just has to coach basketball.
The lazy, lucky sod.