Warriors Need to Rebound; Giants Need Relief
Sportswriters often note that a team needs to "rebound" from a tough loss. In the case of our Golden State Warriors, this is true both literally and figuratively.
For the Warriors to bounce back from their Game 1 loss to Sacramento, they'll need to do a much better job on the defensive glass. The Kings grabbed 17 offensive rebounds Saturday night, converting many of them in crucial moments down the stretch.
Giving so many second chances to a group of potent shooters turned out to be fatal.
Some random thoughts from game 1.
* It was an intense, emotionally charged atmosphere, the Kings' first playoff in Sacramento in 17 years, and the thrilling game measured up to the hype. * Andrew Wiggins came out hot on Saturday night, but clearly looked thinner after his two-month hiatus. He wore down in the fourth quarter and missed his last four shots, including the potential game winner from the left corner in the closing seconds. He also was a non-factor on the glass in the second half. * Harrison Barnes got a measure of revenge against his former teammates. The Wiggins-like forward, who was a key member of the Warriors first NBA championship team, grabbed several offensive rebounds down the stretch; he also chipped in 13 points.
* De'Aaron Fox (above) is the real deal. I hadn't seen much of him before Saturday, but he's got to be one of the league's brightest stars. * And who is Malik Monk? 32 points! 14 of 14 from the line! And the guy doesn't start! * The Kings have an obvious speed advantage over the Warriors, who often failed to get back on defense. * One of Steve Kerr's biggest issues is managing playing time and deciding who's in the lineup in crunch time.
* Kerr has 9 players who deserve to be on the court--the big three of Steph Curry, Klay Tompson and Draymond Green; Wiggins, who should get stronger with each game; Kevon Looney, whose defense and rebounding is critical; Jordan Poole, explosive offensively but a liability defensively; Gary Payton II, a key defensive stopper; Donte DeVincenzo, who's played very well all year; and Jonathan Kuminga, one of the rising stars in the league. * Poole's defense was so bad in Game 1 that analyst Doris Burke, one of my favorites, referred to his "matador defense." * When he was Kerr's assistant, Kings' coach Mike Brown was responsible for managing the rotation. Kerr misses him. * For what it's worth, I'd like to see DeVincenzo and Kuminga get more minutes. I'd have had one of them in the game at the end rather than Wiggins, who was clearly running out of gas. * The Warriors seem surprisingly confident despite the Game 1 loss. They need to win one on the road at some point, and winning away from Chase Center has been very difficult all year. * Tonight's game should be another barnburner. And it may all come down to whether the Warriors follow two of the oldest dictums in basketball: get back and box out.
False Hopes: Throughout spring training, the San Francisco Giants claimed that their exceptional starting rotation would be the team's strength this season and give them a chance to make the playoffs.
The obvious problem with this notion is that Giants' starters usually only pitch five or six innings--or even less on occasion. That leaves several innings for the team's relief pitchers to handle.
It's still early, but there have been numerous instances already where the Giants have blown leads in the late innings. Last Friday, for example, after coming back to tie the game, force extra innings, and take the lead in the top of the 11th, they lost to the lowly Detroit Tigers on a walk-off home run in the bottom half.
Saturday's game was even worse, as the bullpen blew a 6-3 lead in the eighth.
Camilo Doval, the supposed "closer", is sporting a 6.35 ERA. Some of the other relievers are even worse. John Brebbia 7.94; Sean Hjelle 7.04 and Taylor Rogers 18.90.
At 5-9, the Giants have come limping out of the gate. The two main culprits are inconsistent hitting and an overworked, underperforming bullpen.
It could be a long season.
Stop the Carnage (continued): I appreciate the huge outpouring of support following last Tuesday's blog on gun violence in the U.S. Sadly, the ink wasn't even dry before we had another mass shooting in Alabama.
The gun nuts, gun lobbies, and congressional cowards keep pointing out that the recent shooters in Louisville and Nashville (and earlier massacres) purchased their guns legally, and that background checks wouldn't have made a difference. Sorry boys. You're just making our case for us. The fact that AR-15s used to slaughter school children, bank employees and party goers were purchased legally only supports the argument that these weapons need to be outlawed. To put it simply, what's legal in this country, shouldn't be.