The Warriors won, with rebounding and perimeter defense. I actually wonder if the Thunder are a good matchup for the Dubs because they feature no great two-guard, and approach the glass as though they fear it will slice their eyelids. Still, good win, national TV. Stephen Curry, passing like Nash. Monta Ellis, showing flashes of range that I could not foresee, back when he was a kid under Baron’s wing (Fact: Baron’s wing also has a beard).
There’s a media trope floating around that David Lee went out and responded to negative publicity. I’d say: He responded to Jeff Green’s negative defense, and the Thunder’s propensity to rely on the glasswork of a point guard. Players always want to succeed. I think we media schmoes try to reduce basketball to the psychological because it brings us closer–we hope. But we’re probably just creating mythology in the face of matchups and random chance.
But here’s some psychology: Points dominate our NBA judgment.
It’s like how Pavlov drew it up. Fans, players and coaches have an unbreakable psychological points craving. I noticed at the end of the game when fans preposterously chanted “M-V-P” in Monta’s direction. I noticed in the post-game presser when Keith Smart posited that David Lee’s rebounding was spurred by scoring. And I noticed in the locker room, when Dorell Wright shook his head into muttered grumbles–because went 4-16. I mentioned to Wright that he had led the team in plus-minus, and that his defense on Durant may have helped win the game. He wasn’t cheered. The new three-point contest entrant is just like everyone else, save for Udoh.
When I asked Ekpe if he knew of his swelling defensive stats:
“I play defense! That’s what I do!”
Then I inquired as to whether he wished stats could capture defense better:
Udoh: “Man, you just have to watch.”
ESS: “Do you almost judge yourself differently than the other players do. They might think about scoring more?”
Udoh: “Ya. I’m the help man. Whenever I get a chance to help, I gotta be there for my teammates.”
Smart played Ekpe in the final, key defensive possessions. Rare for a rooke, and rarer for any Warriors player to say: “I play defense! That’s what I do!”