Programming note: Warriors-Heat coverage tips off Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND – Distilled to its essence, the low-wattage spectacle surrounding the Warriors is about three games, maddening losses that shined a harsh light upon coach Mark Jackson and his flawed roster.
It all traces back to the Warriors losing to the Bobcats last week, and losing to the Wizards and Timberwolves the week before that – all three at home.
Win those games, and the Warriors are 34-18 and there is peace in the hallways, in the locker room at the arena and within the walls of the downtown Oakland facility. And there is not even a rumor of a rift between Andrew Bogut and Jackson – or the locker room, period – because the coach doesn't feel so close to the edge.
(Jackson, by the way, took a minute on Tuesday to dismiss any rift with Bogut or any other Warriors, insisting that his “entire team is on the same page.”)
By losing those three games and sitting on a 31-21 record, Jackson and his team put a harness on the galloping ambitions of the franchise powers that be, primarily CEO Joe Lacob and esteemed hoops maven Jerry West.
Lacob and The Logo are fussing over the fact that the team is bobbing about the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race. Their stress lands upon Jackson, who has spent recent weeks assiduously defending a record that generally needs no defenses. Of the 19 Warriors coaches since the team moved to California 52 years ago, only four can claim a term above .500 and Jackson is one of them.
In short, he should be very safe. In a rational world his job is not in jeopardy, and he has good reason to be assured of that.
But Jackson, feeling the aspirations of those above him on the corporate ladder, has responded to the recent bumps like a determined prizefighter told he's behind on points in the 11th round. He's swinging, with fury – as if he actually is behind.
This approach on Monday led the coach to open his postgame news conference by not only defending his pregame comments regarding how and when Bogut was injured but also elaborating on his mentality as a coach.
His monologue ended with a tone of defiance that, frankly, I found admirable though gratuitous, even for a man who delivers Sunday sermons in church.
“I believe in every one of my guys,” Jackson said. “I'm proud of what we've been able to do. And I'll go down being me. I can't be anybody else.”
Three games. Three losses. That's the cause of such pressure, the common thread that runs through the discontent of Lacob and West and maybe a few others, which in turn is felt by Jackson because he's a proud yet sensitive man, who transfers some of it onto the media.
Though now that his emotions have been laid bare, maybe Jackson will ease up. Maybe he'll let his record speak for itself. Maybe he'll carefully problem-solve his way through this series of mini-crises.
After several inquiries related to the Bogut matter on Tuesday – Bogut was not available – Jackson skipped through a meadow of semi-answers before finally making an attempt to close the book.
“I will not waste another second going back,” he said. “It's not going to happen.”
Maybe he'll stay true to his word. He has one more game, Wednesday against defending champion Miami, then at least four days during which he can regroup.
If Jackson uses the time wisely, that's exactly what he'll do.