When should Warriors fans start getting nervous?

When Should Warriors Fans Start Getting Nervous?

When Should Warriors Fans Start Getting Nervous?

Ring Don't Lie
A blog about the NBA Finals.
June 12 2017 2:25 PM

When Should Warriors Fans Start Getting Nervous?

Golden-State-Warriors-Fans-Gather-To-Watch-Their-Team-In-Game-Four-Against-The-Cleveland-Cavaliers
Golden State Warriors fans react as they watch a live broadcast of Game 4 of the NBA Finals during a watch party at Oracle Arena on Friday in Oakland, California.

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Warriors fans are already freaking out a little bit. Well, I should probably qualify that statement: Warriors fans I’ve talked to are already freaking out a little bit. Actually, for the sake of journalistic integrity I’m going to have to clarify that the Warriors fans I’ve talked to won’t say they are freaking out, but I can tell that, deep down, they are. “I think Warriors win in five,” a friend texted immediately after the Game 4 defeat. “But if they don’t”

There was no punctuation. He just left it hanging there.

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This was supposed to be a sweep. The Cavaliers had their shot in Game 3, but a furious Warriors comeback slammed the coffin lid closed. But Golden State couldn’t hammer in the nails in Game 4, and the memories of last season are still lingering for Warriors fans. Blowing a 3–1 lead was a crushing embarrassment. Letting a 3–0 lead slip away? It would be unthinkable, were it not for the fact that everyone’s already thinking about it. Except Steve Kerr. Allegedly.

“It’s a totally different situation,” the Warriors coach said after Game 4. “Different team. They’re a different team, also. We’re in a much better position. We’re healthy. We’ve got Kevin Durant.” It’s true. No team that has Kevin Durant has ever blown a 3–0 lead to the Cavs in the NBA Finals. History is on Golden State’s side.

So, when should Warriors fans start to get nervous?

If the Warriors lose the tipoff …

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While Zaza Pachulia is 6-foot-11, video evidence of him dunking is scarce. If you were to hoist him directly above the hoop using the advanced stagecraft that made the helicopter scenes in Miss Saigon possible, he still would have trouble scoring. One thing he is good at, however, is winning the tipoff. Pachulia has secured the opening possession for the Warriors three out of four times in these finals. He failed to do so in Game 4, however, which Golden State lost. If he can’t win the tipoff in this close-out contest, Warriors fans should thus be extremely nervous.

If the Cavs score first …

J.R. Smith opened the scoring in Game 1 by swishing a three-pointer. In Game 2, LeBron James got things started, while Kyrie Irving broke the deadlock with a layup in Game 3. What do those games all have in common? The Cavs lost, even though they were first on the board. However, Cleveland scored first in Game 4 (another J.R. three), and we all know how that ended. That’s why, if the Cavs open the scoring, Golden State fans should be very, very nervous.

If the Warriors are losing after the first quarter …

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When the Cavs scored 49 points in the first quarter on Friday, it was an NBA Finals record. If they carry a narrow, non-record-setting lead into the second quarter of Game 5, then Warriors fans should be slightly nervous.

If the Warriors go into halftime with fewer points than the Cavs …

Same as above, except you can up the Warriors’ Worry Meter™ a few Nerve Notches®. (All rights reserved, not affiliated with ESPN’s “Panic Meter” in any way, shape, or form.)

If LeBron throws himself an alley-oop off the backboard again …

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If he repeats this incredible play, Golden State fans should start stocking their bomb shelters with canned foods.

If the Warriors lose Game 5 …

The 72–10 Bulls went up 3–0 in the 1996 Finals before dropping games four and five to the Seattle Supersonics. Chicago won in six, but the greatest team of all time had to work for it. Warriors fans should keep this in mind, but who am I kidding? If they lose Game 5, they will be nervous past the point of superstition. Human sacrifices will occur along the Lake Merritt bike path and traffic will be stopped on the Bay Bridge as motorists exit their cars to kneel before the numerous false idols propagated by the faithless.

If the Warriors win Game 5 ...

What a moment! The ghosts of 2016 will be squashed! The 3–1 jokes will be set aflame! The anxiety will melt away into a puddle of relief! (At least, I think that’s relief.) But what replaces that angst? There is immediate elation, sure, but that, too, is fleeting, a memory by the time you get to work on Tuesday morning. Is the emptiness you feel after getting what you want worse than the pain of losing? At least the latter provides an opportunity for personal growth. Going into Game 5, Warriors fans must face this existential horror: Even a championship will not make any of us happy in an enduring way. This should make everyone, and not just Golden State fans, profoundly nervous.

Nick Greene is a Chicago-born writer who currently lives in Oakland, California. Follow him on Twitter.