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The Warriors and NBA … in Control on December 25

December 25th, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, College football, NBA

The NBA has taken over Christmas Day.

Not long ago, this was a day ceded to second-tier college football bowl games. The Blue-Gray game was the first thing up. Maybe the Sun Bowl in the afternoon. Nothing that mattered much.

For decades, the NBA didn’t do much to take the day away from the random football available. Perhaps because it underestimated the number of eyeballs available. Perhaps because the NBA was a much less significant competition, pre-Magic-v-Bird.

It staged games, generally one or two, and usually regional rivalries. As recently as 2006 it had just one Christmas game: The Lakers versus the Miami Heat.


Five NBA games, lined up one after the other, soaking up about 13 hours of programming.

Not only did it feature the now-standard rematch of last season’s finals teams, the league staged four more with 1) good teams and/or 2) interesting players.

So, yes, the league has seized December 25, reflecting both the NBA’s rising popularity as well as the insatiable American appetite for live sports programming.

Especially when it features matchups as tasty as the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry playing the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

Which ended 89-83 in favor of the Warriors and told us … what?

Stephen Curry is a game-changer. Not only is he really, really good, the best player in the game, he also is a much more accessible basketball concept than his predecessor as best player, LeBron.

As a coach told the New York Times, tens of thousands of young players can aspire to being the next Steph Curry because he is “only” 6-foot-3 and not exactly physically imposing — as opposed to LeBron, who is a 6-foot-8 beast and a one-in-a-10-million physical freak. And tens of thousands of kids shooting threes all day could make the game even more interesting, a decade from now.

–LeBron still can’t beat the Warriors alone. The Cavs managed to win two of six games, in the NBA finals last spring, but it seems unlikely they would win even once if the finals started this week. He took over the game down the stretch, or tried to, and demonstrated anew he cannot go 1-on-5 and win.

–The Warriors are a big step ahead of anyone else. The only teams remotely in their class are the San Antonio Spurs and the Cavs, and they just handled Cleveland despite Curry and Klay Thompson struggling from three-point range.

But the muted performances from the Splash Brothers were covered up by the enormous numbers rung up by Draymond Green, the power forward, who scored 22 with 15 rebounds and seven assists.

It is increasingly clear that the Warriors have three stars, and the third provides the crucial presence in the interior that balances the Warriors.

–How many games could the Warriors win this season? The record is 72, set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1995-96. That team lost 10 games. The Warriors, meanwhile, are now 28-1. On pace to go … 79-3.

So far, we have no evidence to suggest the Warriors are about to start losing games with any sort of regularity. (Remember, their only defeat came at the end of a seven-game road trip.)

It seems crazy, but 72-10 might be the worst-case scenario for this team. Barring disabling injuries to at least two of their three best players.

So, next Christmas? Figure on the record-setting Warriors to again be playing in the prime-time game. Against whomever comes out of the Eastern Conference to lose in the 2016 NBA finals.


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