Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Golden State and the trap games

To date, the Golden State Warriors remain on pace to break the Chicago Bulls' all time best single season record of 72-10, which was set back in 1995-96.

Now at 60-6, an astounding winning percentage of .909, they need only go 13-3 in their remaining 16 games to eclipse the former mark. Still, that requires a winning percentage of .812. Guess how many other teams in the entire NBA have played over .800 ball, or even .750 this year? One. Yep, the San Antonio Spurs. They just improved to 57-10 which equates to .850 ball. Also very impressive, but they remain 3.5 games back of the Warriors.

In their one and only meeting so far this year, at home the Warriors drilled the Spurs by 30 points. A blow out. But the final few weeks of the regular season offer up some interesting scenarios, and it starts in just a few days for the Warriors.

Assuming they trash the lowly NY Knicks at home, GS then has to fly to Dallas for a meeting with the Mavs on Friday. Let's not forget that one of their 6 losses came against that very team earlier this year, and it wasn't really even close.

Though it's a short plane flight, the very next night (Saturday) GS will be in San Antonio. The Spurs haven't lost at home all year and they'll be catching the Warriors on the tail end of back to back road games. Plus the Spurs are now fully healthy and typically go at least ten deep in their roster. No doubt, this will be a must-watch game. Likely the most anticipated game of the entire season so far. Can coach Pop and the Spurs stay perfect at home and close the gap a bit with the Warriors by knocking them off? Maybe. Then again, if Steph and Co. get on one of their rolls, what could be more of a "statement" than waltzing into Alamoland and coming out with a victory? We shall see. But it might very well be a trap game for GS.

Even more interesting is what transpires over 3 days starting on April 7. The Warriors host the Spurs again, have a day off, then fly to Memphis for a game against the Grizzlies. The very next day, GS is right back in San Antonio taking on the Spurs again. More air miles, more jet lag, another back end of a road "two-fer", and another clash with Pop's machine in their backyard. And make no mistake, the Spurs have been playing fantastic team basketball, particularly of late (winning 12 of their last 13). This could easily be another trap game for the Warriors.

Thing is, if one looks closely at the schedule, the Spurs have a decided advantage. Before all 3 of their remaining games against the Warriors -- they have a rest day. While GS is playing elsewhere on the road, Coach Pop and the Spurs can watch it on TV and game plan. A quirk in the schedule, but it is what it is, and it definitely favors San Antonio.

Does all this matter in the whole scheme of things? Yes and no. Yes, the Warriors certainly want to break the Bulls' old record, and both teams would love to finish the regular season undefeated at home. No NBA team has ever done it before. How cool would it be to see two of them do it in the same year? It's possible.

But no -- when the playoffs start, everything is reset to zero and the regular season goes out the window -- save for home court advantage.

Many think it's a given San Antonio and Golden State will meet in the Western conference finals, with the winner likely going on to be world champions. Also given that with 80% of the regular season already played and both these teams head and shoulders above everybody else, it would be difficult to argue that assumption. Who coming out of the East could defeat either of them? Lebron and the Cavs have the best record in the much weaker Eastern conference, but still lag far behind the records of GS or SA. As in double digits. Not even a close call. And whoever comes out of the East would be faced with the daunting prospect of ceding home court advantage to a team that might not have lost at home ALL YEAR. Good luck with that.

But that's getting ahead of things. For now, the rest of the regular season offers up some very intriguing games to watch, and certainly a few "all-time" scenarios to keep tabs on as they play out.

Hmmm. Come to think it, the date mentioned above, April 7th, rings a bell. Isn't that the same day all the world class linksters get together at some high-falootin joint called Augusta National to club it out in the Masters for the proverbial green jacket? You know, replete with the hushed reverent tones, pool table fast greens, say amen brother corner, and some in the gallery eating allergy pills like M&Ms while being exposed to all the flora that has come into bloom? With any luck, there might even be a Tiger sighting. Eldrick's gotta come out of hibernation eventually. And you just know he'll show up for this gig. His chances of winning it? Zero. Even making the cut? Mighty slim. His time has come and gone. Even if he's not self-destructing, the young studs these days are way too good, and will beat his brains out. But good gawd-a-mighty, we'll be force fed a few thousand Tiger highlights from years past when the annual royal event starts up. All the more reason to ignore the first two days of the tournament. Eldrick won't be playing on the weekend, so the viewing public will get far better TV coverage of the other more worthy golfers.

Nevertheless, that should be quite the couch tater weekend indeed.

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