This series began as the birth of the newest NorCal/SoCal rivalry, was rudely interrupted by the racist ramblings of a repulsive reptile, and ultimately delivered the inevitable Game 7 everyone wanted. For six games and 46 minutes, the Golden State Warriors withstood the mammoth twins of the Clippers front-court, but they proved to be too much. The Warriors lost, 126-121, bringing the series and the season to an end.
They said this playoff series ended three weeks ago—before the playoffs began, before the Warriors even knew who their opponents would be. That's when the Warriors announced that center Andrew Bogut would be out for the entire post-season due to a fractured rib. And of all the teams to face without a starting center, of course it had to be the Clippers, the team with the most brutal big-men in the entire association. Everyone knew it was over before it began—everyone but the Warriors and their fans. The "We Believe" fan base believed. Having belief is nice. Having Bogut is better.
Here's what I mean: below is the sequence that exemplified the Warriors' inability to contain the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. This sequence also destroyed all of our souls. It began in the 4th quarter, with 2:21 left on the clock:
2:21: Steph made both of his free throws, putting the Dubs up, 109-108!!! (Yes! Yes! High five! High five!)
2:10: Blake Griffin then made a layup, putting the Clips back up by 1, 109-110. (ARGH!)
1:58: On the ensuing play, Steph found a hole in the Clippers' defense and drove in for an easy layup. But he knew he was being followed, stalked by DeAndre Jordan. But Steph was smart. Instead of laying it up from the right-side of the hoop, at the last possible moment, Steph went up from the left, using the rim to guard against DeAndre. It didn't matter. DeAndre's tentacles reached around the basket, blocking Steph's shot. (Dayam.)
It didn't end there.
1:54: On the ensuing rebound and fast-break the other way, one Clip's pass sent the ball to mid-court, followed by another Clip's pass to the basket--where Blake Griffin was already mid-air. Clips up, 109-112. (Wow. Just, wow.)
And the horror continued.
1:39: Draymond Green misses a three. (No! Damn it, no!!!)
1:15: Chris Paul then missed his shot.
1:15: Of course, though, DeAndre Jordan was waiting under the basket, pulled in the rebound, and went back up with an absolutely devastating dunk. Clips up, 109-114. (Oh my God, you have got to be kidding me. Damn, that's game.)
After that series of unfortunate events, the Warriors were down 109-114 with 1:15 left on the clock. The game, the series, the season, for all intents and purposes, was over. It was in Game 7 that both the Warriors and Clippers went all out, combining for the highest scoring game of the series with the outcome uncertain until the last minute. Both teams played the way we all knew they could and in the end, it was their big guys and our lack thereof, which sealed the deal. For all the amazing Warriors play on the court, their most valuable player may have been one who never suited up.
Let the speculation begin. This has been called a "finals or fired" season for Mark Jackson. Unbelievable, considering he's the coach that took this team to back-to-back playoff appearances and a 50+ win season for the first time in two decades, but for an ownership group which ambitions beyond mere playoff appearances, Mark Jackson is definitely on the hot seat. Former Chicago Bull, Steve Kerr has been rumored to be a possible replacement. So has just-fired-by-the-Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni.
Every Warriors fan has fallen in love with Draymond Green. He has hella heart and left it all on the court. Warriors fans love rooting for the underappreciated players who play beyond their apparent ability. Draymond did just that.
David Lee, not so much.
What's up with Harrison Barnes? In last year's playoffs, when the world was introduced to Steph Curry, Warriors fans drooled over the potential we saw in Harrison. What ever happened to that?
So, who do we give up for Kevin Love? Who are we kidding, he's going to the Lakers.
It's a new thing, this. The Warriors will be in the playoffs again next year. And the year after that. No, it's true--absent some horrendous injury which is too terrible to even fathom (but is totally possible because these are the Warriors, afterall. Is that a jinx? Oh God, what did I do?) the Warriors are now a perennial playoff team. "We'll get them next year" is now an actual threat. And we will. (Unless we won't? This Warriors winning thing is still too new).