The Ayesha Curry Rogue Tweet Emporium has been closed, as the safety and comforts of home have been re-established for the Golden State Warriors. The only real soot-heaps from the smoldering chemical fire of Game 6 of the NBA Finals are:
1. Steve Kerr’s wallet.
2. Stephen Curry’s bank of mouthguards, from the House Of Orthodontic Chew Toys.
3. Andre Iguodala’s back.
Not necessarily in that order.
Iguodala figures to be as hale and hearty as need be for Game 7. Curry has lots more mouthguards, and even his fine for being careless with dental equipment will make no significant dent in anything but his relationship with official Jason Phillips – who, it must be said, really needs to put some time and work into his ejection signal. He looked like he was telling Curry where the Cinnabon stand was rather than banning him from the Quicken Loans floor, and that won’t do at all.
[RATTO: Warriors suddenly vulnerable, frustrated, in hazmat-level mess]
And Kerr received the $25,000 league spanking for specifying when even generalizing is discouraged.
And therein lies the fun of Game 7. The Warriors will go home where the love is unconditional and comes with a blithe disregard for the cost of anything, but across the nation, the team’s reputation as the precocious babyfaces navigating their way through a field of supervillains has taken a battering.
Curry is now viewed nationally as The Guy Who Tantrummed in Game 6, and his wife is taking an equally noticeable rash chastisement on antisocial media for claiming on Twitter that the NBA is as crooked as a craps game with invisible spots on imaginary dice.
And Kerr wins no awards for claiming the divine right of kings for Curry, even if, as the Warriors suspect, LeBron James and the Cavaliers lobbied ferociously for Draymond Green’s suspension from Game 5.
Oh, and Green. There is always going to be Green.
This had to happen, of course, although nobody could have predicted the specific methodology. Kerr’s tongue, Curry’s oral accouterments, Green’s flailing limbs – none of it really foreseeable.
But the new item on the menu doesn’t stay new forever, and the more people who try it, the greater the number of people who send it back to the chef. And the Warriors have become what they project.
At least that is if you like your strokes broad and your caricatures devoid of nuance.
The Warriors were never as squeaky clean as people projected them to be a year ago, and they are also not the spasmodic, uber-whiny, shash-talking nouveaux riches they are being portrayed as now.
They are, however, a team which has lost six of its last 13 games by six, 28, 24, 30, 15 and 14 points – 19 points fewer than their 11 losses from the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, and seven points more than the margins of their seven wins.
More compellingly, they are shooting fully 48 percentage points poorer in these two series than in the regular season, and 29 percentage points lower from beyond the arc. Some of this is normal given the competition, but the Warriors live and die on their ability to shoot and disturb the other team’s shooting, and the Thunder and Cavs are shooting 13 percentage points better in all shots and the same from three, and their effective shooting percentage has dipped from .563 to .517 in these two series.
So the playoffs, as you might have gathered, are hard, and the Warriors have not faced this type of staunch resistance in the past two years. Oklahoma City and this year’s Cleveland team are significantly tougher outs than last year’s Memphis and the LeBron-a-thon, and the Warriors have been given healthy scares by both teams. They have as many points as the Cavaliers do, and they were outscored by the Thunder, which means for purposes of this discussion, they are what they have not had to be in their other 195 games.
Just like everybody else.
[POOLE: Rewind: Warriors faced with triumph or long summer after Game 7]
This is a new sensation, so the assumption that they are going back home merely to recharge their power rings and consult with the Guardians of the Universe is a dangerous one. This is the adversity they were blamed for not having faced a year ago, and this is the crucible they watched melt their opponents. They are no longer punching downhill, and it is unreasonable to assume that the Cavaliers will suddenly go all Timberwolfy or Seventy-Sixer-ish in the face of those withering wits from the 510.
This is hard work, harder than these Warriors have faced in quite some time, and their reactions to the task in Games 5 and 6 have not honored them.
So they either do, in the face of LeBronian odds and the evil machinations of the League Of Officiating Gentlemen, or they do not, and pay full retail in reputation and characterization for failing to finish what they started faster and more comprehensively than any other team ever.
In other words, Steve Kerr is poorer, Stephen Curry has to break in a new mouthguard, and Ayesha Curry is taking a remedial class at Don’t Hit Send School. This is not the same as being doomed, but it is the test that will prove them either supremely worthy victors or perpetually accursed pretenders of the 2001 Seattle Mariners/2007 New England Patriots ilk.
We do not pay for silver, kids. We simply don’t.