20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Warriors Lead Wire to Wire, Defeat Mavericks to Advance to the NBA Finals

On Thursday night, we saw once again that momentum in the playoffs is a myth. In game four of the Western Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks built a 99-70 lead en route to a 119-109 win to avoid being swept--but in game five, the Warriors led wire to wire, and closed out the series with a 120-110 win to advance to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years, a feat that has not been accomplished since the Chicago Bulls won six championships from 1991-98. Klay Thompson had his best game of the series, pouring in a game-high 32 points on 12-25 field goal shooting, including 8-16 from three point range. All five Golden State starters scored in double figures, as did sixth man Jordan Poole, who finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Andrew Wiggins had 18 points and 10 rebounds while continuing to be the primary defender versus Luka Doncic. Draymond Green scored 17 points on 6-7 field goal shooting, and he also had a game-high nine assists. Stephen Curry did not shoot well (5-17 from the field) but he accumulated 15 points while matching Green with nine assists. Although game five was not a vintage performance for the two-time regular season MVP, Curry received the first annual Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP. Kevon Looney snared a game-high 18 rebounds while also chipping in 10 points and four assists.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 28 points, but he shot just 10-28 from the field. He only scored six first half points, his lowest first half scoring total this season (regular season and playoffs included), but he scored 15 third quarter points on 5-8 field goal shooting as the Mavericks made one last desperate attempt to extend their season. The Mavericks cut a 21 point lead to eight points (92-84) with 34.2 seconds left in the third quarter, but Poole's layup before the end of the quarter pushed the Warriors' lead back to 10 points, and the Warriors maintained a double digit lead the rest of the way. Doncic received little help outside of Spencer Dinwiddie, who had 26 points on 7-12 field goal shooting.

The Mavericks reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since their 2011 championship run, but next season they will face the challenge of proving that this season set a foundation and was not a fluke; it is not uncommon for a team to jump out of the woodwork to make one Conference Finals appearance only to fall back to the pack, as happened with the Atlanta Hawks the past couple seasons.

The Warriors await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals; the Boston Celtics lead the Miami Heat 3-2, and can eliminate the Heat with a win at home tonight. Curry owns three championship rings, but no Finals MVPs. A fourth ring--particularly if accompanied by a Finals MVP award--will elevate Curry's historical status in the eyes of many, though it should be noted that these Warriors won their first championship versus a hobbled Cleveland team, and then won their next two championships with Kevin Durant serving as the clear number one option.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by David Friedman @ 1:01 AM



At Friday, May 27, 2022 5:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm biased but I don't think so since they just beat my team but I have never liked the whole "this title counts less because they beat someone with an injury" thing for the Warriors or anyone else. I think it's a slippery slope and it probably taints more titles than it doesn't once you start doing it.

Like Kobe's last two titles were against a Boston team that lost its center while it had a 3-2 lead then lost the last two and against an Orlando team with an injury to its second best player in a season when injury also took out Boston for them. I know Kyrie + Love is more significant than Kendrick Perkins but where exactly are we supposed to draw the line?

On the other hand does Boston's 2008 title against those Lakers still count since Bynum was hurt?

Does Magic and Kareem's last ring count less because Thomas got hurt? Does the one before that count less because McHale was on a broken foot and a bunch of other Celtics had injuries of different seriousness? Does the one before that also count less because Bird supposedly broke his hand in a bar fight the round before? Does the Fo Fo Fo run not count because James Worthy missed the Finals?

Heck more recently for the Warriors does the Cavs coming back on them from 3-1 not count because Bogut was hurt and Curry was hobbled and Iggy was hurt and Draymond missed a game in the penalty box? Does Toronto's ring not count because KD and Klay got hurt? Does LA's last ring not count because Miami's three best players all got hurt to different degrees in the first game?

Double heck does a potential Boston ring this year not count because Middleton was out? Or Golden State because Ja missed half the series?

Triple heck Kawhi is hurt like 2 out of every 3 years by the playoffs it seems like and he is usually on contending teams so do everybody's else's titles only count for full credit when he's healthy?

I think a title is a title is a title. Once we start putting in asterisks it all gets messy and sad. Probably every title has some injury somewhere in the league that someone somewhere could argue would have stopped it from happening but it's still hard to win four rounds against a bunch of guys playing for the thing they want most in the world you know?

But also: Go Miami or Boston. Darn Warriors! I feel like it was our turn to do the We Believe thing! You owe us one!

At Friday, May 27, 2022 8:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I have stated in other articles that all titles count, and without "asterisks," including the "bubble title," plus the various shortened season titles. However, when assessing a great player's historical status, it is fair to examine (1) how big a role that player had on championship team(s), and (2) the circumstances under which championship(s) were won.

Regarding the examples you cited, Kobe's Lakers with one other All-Star defeated a Celtics team with at least three future HoFers (four if you count Rondo, who may be considered a fringe HoF candidate). Perkins is a career role player.

In contrast, Irving and Love are likely future HoFers. So the context of GS beating Cleveland is much different than the context of Kobe's Lakers beating the Celtics. Also, as you noted, Bynum may very well have been at least as valuable as Perkins at that stage of their respective careers.

Isiah's injury is obviously a significant contextual factor.

McHale and Bird were able to play reasonably effectively, so it is difficult to say that they were hindered more or less than players on opposing teams. There is a big difference between being out of the lineup and being hurt. Almost everyone is playing hurt by the time of the Finals.

In 1983, James Worthy was a rookie and he had not yet developed into the player he would become. The 76ers dominated that entire season, and it is difficult to picture a healthy Worthy making much difference.

Regarding the Cavs' comeback from 3-1, as noted above I distinguish being playing hurt and being out of the lineup. I also do not consider suspensions, because that is a self-inflicted error no different than committing turnovers or missing shots.

With Kawhi, his general lack of availability should be taken into account, but I would say that his absence is relevant regarding the series in which the Warriors took him out with a cheap shot play that would now be deemed a flagrant foul. The Spurs would have had a great chance to beat the Warriors with Kawhi, and his injury was far from random.

I agree that it is difficult to win four rounds against tough competition, and I give credit to each championship team--but I also consider context when I rank players and teams. This year's championship "counts" regardless of who wins it, but the injuries to All-Star players on teams defeated by the eventual Finalists are a relevant contextual factor.

At Friday, May 27, 2022 2:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The discourse is going to be irritating regarding the "they never needed KD" crowd, the verdict is still out on that for this season as they still have to face one of Boston or Miami, but this Warriors FO has done a great job revamping the squad. They have guys on the bench that could get significant playing time for other teams (which was not the case last season) and have created a new young core to supplant the old core

And of course it seems a lot of key injuries and dysfunction with the Suns allowed them to reach the finals again

You don't really need a superstar like Durant to beat the opponents they beat in 15 and 22 Western conference, but I wonder if that will be enough vs the elite wings that Boston and Miami have

At Friday, May 27, 2022 6:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every championship requires some amount of luck, even if it's related to not having any major injuries.

That said, I think the bubble championship is probably the biggest asterisk as the circumstances were the most extreme. We just don't have any real comparison to this scenario.

At Friday, May 27, 2022 11:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to say for certain titles regarding injuries, all speculation in the end. Sticking to GS since this article is about them, doesn’t make sense to discredit their 2015 title if anyone does based on injuries. Iggy outplayed James, can’t blame anyone else or blatt for that. In 2016, pretty lucky for CLE to win after down 3-1. Regardless what you think about green’s suspension, it likely affected the series outcome. And previous rounds effects affecting the Finals which shouldn’t happen.

DAL no chance in this series. Doncic best player in this series and maybe in nba overall but he’s still not close to a Kobe or James in his prime even. His rebound totals misleading too. I notice his teammates doing the work and boxing out and then he gets lots of rebounds by default. Still a good rebounder but context important. But GS had next best 5 players in series. GS had superior talent and depth relative to DAL.

Kawhi way overrated by most. 1st title was as a role player-big deal. 2nd title was ‘only’ because of injuries. Sure, injuries happen but if you’re only winning because of injuries and major, multiple injuries at that, doesn’t mean much to me. Coupled with his contentious, injury-riddled career for himself. Perfect timing for him. A lot of other teams would’ve fared much better vs GS if no Durant and Thompson too.

At Saturday, May 28, 2022 1:50:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The irrational anti-Durant narrative has been annoying from the start, and figures to become louder and more annoying during the Finals. Whatever happens in 2022 does not change or invalidate what happened in 2017 and 2018.

At Saturday, May 28, 2022 1:54:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The "bubble" title is the most unique. I am not sure if it is the most deserving of an asterisk, or what kind of asterisk it should receive. The players faced unusual challenges, but they also did not have to deal with road crowds. That championship counts for something and the championship run was impressive in some ways, but I do not consider those Lakers to be anywhere close to an all-time great team.

At Saturday, May 28, 2022 2:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Iguodala did an excellent job on James, but it is fair to suggest that Irving and Love could have made a difference. The result was obviously different the following year.

I did not say whether or not Green's suspension affected the outcome. I said that I classify suspensions like turnovers and unforced errors, meaning that I "blame" the suspended player as opposed to considering this a mitigating circumstance as I might with injuries. Green has positive traits and flaws. The Warriors keep him around hoping that the positive will outweigh the negative, much as the Bulls did with Rodman in the 1990s. If you sign Rodman or Green then you cannot be surprised if they get suspended, because that is part of what they do.

Dallas blew a big lead, and had they held it then the series might have taken on a different tone. That said, the Warriors proved that they are the superior team. The Mavericks were apparently a tough team for me to figure out during the playoffs (I kept making the wrong pick in their series), but I doubt I was the only one who could not quite decide what to make of them.

Healthy Kawhi is a great player. How much his all-time ranking should be affected by his injuries/games missed may end up being a Bill Walton/Grant Hill type of question if he does not rack up some full seasons before his career ends. I enjoy the way the plays and his calm demeanor, so I hope that we get to see him be healthy the rest of the way, though that does not seem likely to happen.

At Sunday, May 29, 2022 11:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Different Anonymous:

I disagree Iggy outplayed LJ. I watched that series, Lebron was the best player by far and the not so subtle nod to that is that Iggy got MVP for just blunting Lebron. Saying he “outplayed” Lebron is in my opinion too strong wording. Iggy barely kept a lid on him. He did a great job, I agree, but Iggy did not outplay Lebron.

At Sunday, May 29, 2022 6:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Irving/Love could’ve helped, but I doubt enough. Irving did well in the one game he played and GS still won. If James played like an mvp instead of struggling as much as he did, I might give him a pass but he didn’t.

Regardless of how one views suspensions, it likely swayed the series to CLE. It was a controversial suspension at that and earlier rounds’ effects were used which I don’t think is good. Green is a bonehead but the rules need to improve.

DAL was hard to figure out until GS. GS at full strength except Payton, have the experience, and a vastly superior team. Utah is good but now we know they’ll never amount to much. They were down 2-1 before doncic returned. DAL overachieved overall, they’ll need to upgrade quite a bit to reach WCF again. Phoenix was a disappointment. Paul still good but super old, and obviously not going to be reliable every game. No small guard at his age has ever been to my knowledge. Booker too erratic still. Their cast solid though, surprising they lost.

Sure, healthy Kawhi is great. But still a lot about him that confuses me and how he exits teams.

Anonymous: can’t agree. James played great still and put up his usual big stats, but like often is the case with him, the impact his stats indicate wasn’t there. 36ppg on 33 FGA/game. Yes, he needed to shoot a lot obviously, but that’s very poor and I’m sure any opposition would be glad to take that. Iggy did a lot more than put a lid on James. His defense was suffocating and played better than James in 4th quarters overall. Iggy also did well offensively and was making a lot of big shots. His defense was as good as James offense, and his offense was much better than James defense. It’s telling that Iggy got mvp over curry as curry is a golden boy and GS best player overall that season. Curry put up big numbers himself and it should’ve been obvious Iggy outplayed curry, too.

At Monday, May 30, 2022 10:39:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I would say that Iguodala outperformed James relative to their respective roles in this series. Iguodala's role was not to score 30-plus ppg; his role was to do the best that he could to limit James' efficiency, while also making some key contributions on offense. Iguodala did what he had to do for the Warriors to win. Curry did not win the Finals MVP because, even though he had some good moments and decent overall stats, there were too many times that he was the second, third, or even fourth best player on the court.

My point about suspensions in the context of the conversation about injuries is that injuries are largely out of a player's control (assuming that he is in proper condition and did not do something reckless). A player can control being suspended just like he can control his shot selection and turnovers, so those things may impact the outcome but they are also part of a basketball player's character. For example, the likelihood that Tatum or Curry will be suspended in the 2022 NBA Finals is close to zero--but I cannot say that about Green.


Post a Comment

<< Home