Quick Takes: Warriors-Raptors; Baseball Crowds; Stanford Advances; 49ers/Raiders Signings.

There is no shortage of storylines in the NBA Championship Series between our Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. Lots of interesting angles, personalities, and strategies on display.

Most have been covered and dissected ad nauseam, so no need to regurgitate, but here are a few random thoughts.

The Lame and the Halt: With Kevin Durant out, Steph Curry fighting an illness, Kevon Looney lost in the second quarter, Andre Iguodala temporarily sidelined after getting his “head knocked off”, and Klay Thompson limping off with seven minutes left on the clock, Game 2 was a major gut check for the Warriors. They passed with flying colors. It was one of the most glorious, gutty wins we’ve seen.

Durant: Funny how quickly the discussion has gone from, "Are the Warriors better without Durant?" (after Golden State took four straight from Portland without him) to "Can the Warriors win the championship without Durant?” (after Toronto won Game 1 of the Finals).

The answer to both questions is, "no."

Despite all the speculation, I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Durant is gone. I’d put the odds at him re-signing with the Warriors at 50-50. If he does go elsewhere, I don’t think it’ll be to New York or to the LA Lakers. It’ll be the LA Clippers.

If Durant does leave, the Warriors may opt to re-sign…

DeMarcus Cousins: It was great to see Cousins, who’s finally getting his shot at the big NBA Finals stage, come through in Game 2. His rebounding, presence in the middle and passing all were instrumental in the Warriors’ comeback. Never has the saying “he came up big” been more accurate.

Iguodala: I’ve always been a huge admirer of Andre Iguodala, dating back to his days at Arizona. In Game 2 he made two of the biggest shots of the game—one which put the Warriors ahead in the third quarter, the other which sealed the victory with seven seconds remaining. He also had eight rebounds, six assists, and played some terrific defense.

Like many of the other great defensive players in the league, Iguodala rarely fouls. He played 28 minutes, hounded Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam all night, and didn’t commit a personal.

In 15 years in the NBA, Iguodala has averaged less than two fouls per game (1.8 to be exact). Given the fact that he’s usually guarding one of the best players on the opposing team, if not the best, that’s impressive.

Quinn Cook: The man can shoot. After the game, Curry remarked that Cook might be the most confident shooter on the team. He was fearless in draining three important threes in the second half.

Drake: Do us all a favor. Just sit down and shut up. This isn’t about you.

44: So nice to see the Canadian crowd giving President Obama a standing ovation and chanting “MVP.” Seems like an eternity, but it was only two and a half years ago when the American President, instead of being a laughingstock, was respected all over the world.

Elsewhere:

Empty Seats: Major League Baseball’s attendance woes continue, as crowds are declining all over the league. Too many relief pitchers, defensive shifts, strikeouts, and interminable reviews to see if a baserunner’s toe came an inch off the bag. Too few balls in play, stolen bases, hit and runs, sacrifice bunts, and complete games.

Front office types in three-quarters of the MLB cities are worried, with good reason.

Stanford: Kudos to coach Dave Esquer and his Stanford baseball team for winning the NCAA Regionals. The Cardinal had to survive three elimination games and beat a very tough Fresno State team Sunday and Monday.

There were too many heroes to mention in last night’s 9-7 win, but catcher Maverick Handley’s two home runs, No. 9 hitter Christian Robinson’s four RBI’s, No. 1 pitcher Brendan Beck’s sterling relief appearance, and closer Jack Little’s three strikeouts in the ninth were the biggest contributors.

Now on to Starkville, Mississippi for a three-game series with Mississippi State, with a berth in the College World Series at stake. It won’t be a picnic. Starkville is one of toughest places to play in the country. The crowds are, shall we say, rather impolite.

CFP: The College Football Playoff will be expanded. It’s not a question of if, but when. More coaches, athletic directors, and commissioners are either in favor of expansion, or “open to discussing it,” which means they’re probably in favor but don’t want to come out publicly yet.

49ers: Is it just me or does it seem that every player the 49ers draft or sign as a free agent has a history of injury problems?

Raiders: The Raiders have just signed Richie Incognito? Richie Incognito? Are you serious? The man has more baggage than a Southwest Airlines flight. And it once again points out the incredible hypocrisy in the NFL.

Incognito, a guy who has been suspended for bullying a teammate and an assistant trainer, repeatedly taunted people with racist slurs, was placed on involuntary psychiatric hold after a violent incident at a fitness center, and threatened to shoot people at a funeral home, can still get a job in the NFL.

Players with a long history of domestic violence can get second or even third chances.

But a Super Bowl quarterback who doesn’t stand for the national anthem is a pariah.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com

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