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Bob's Corner: Here come the Dubs

BOB'S CORNER: The Golden State Warriors facing the Boston Celtics for the 2022 NBA World Championship is underway and our man in the US, Bob Craven, is all over it. He saw the Warriors surrender home court advantage, then reclaim it in Boston to make Game 5 pivotal in determining this series.

THE Golden State Warriors came into the NBA Finals with the home court advantage over the Boston Celtics, making them the home team in four of the seven games for the championship. 

Surprisingly, they surrendered that advantage by losing Game 1 at home as previously reported.

Game 2, also in the Bay Area, was eerily similar to Game 1 in that it was just a two-point game at halftime. 

Then, as in Game 1, the Warriors blew out the Celtics in the third quarter to take a 23-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

The Warriors' 3-point shooting in that quarter was remarkable, including a buzzer-beater by Jordan Poole from 12-metres out, a step inside the half-court line and near the right sideline, and it was perfect---nothing but net.

In Game 1, Boston crushed the W’s 40-16 in the fourth quarter, but that would not be happening in Game 2.  The Celtics could only cut four points off that 23-point lead, and Warriors essentially coasted home to win by 19. 

Game 3 in Boston had the Celtics jump out to a quick lead in the first quarter, and they were up by 12 at the half.  Then came a typical Warriors’ third quarter onslaught, but this time the Celtics didn’t just fold, although they did give GSW a rare seven-point possession, which momentarily put the Warriors up by one.

Boston still had a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but this time the Celtics clamped down on defense and held the W’s to 11 points—the third fewest ever in the shot clock era--and they rolled to a 16-point win. 

They were helped by a very balanced scoring effort:  Jaylen Brown led them with 27 points (17 in the first quarter), Jayson Tatum added 26, and Marcus Smart chipped in with 24.  He also led the defensive effort that kept the Warriors down in that fourth quarter, allowing the Celtics to keep the home court advantage in the series.

That lasted only until Game 4 when Steph Curry did his best Steph Curry imitation.  Curry had a slight ankle injury in Game 3, but you would never have known that in in the second half of Game 4. 

Once again, it was a close game at the halfway point with Boston up by four.  As has become usual, the Warriors won the third quarter, but not as decisively as previously at 30-24, closing with a 14-7 run that wiped out a six-point Celtic lead. 

Curry scored 14 points in the quarter, including four 3-pointers.  In this series, the Warriors have outscored the Celtics in the third quarter 136-87.

Boston took a four-point lead around the halfway point in the fourth quarter, but then the Warriors and Curry got to work.  Curry scored a couple of baskets during a 10-0 run that turned that deficit into a six-point lead, and the Warriors scored 17 of the game’s last 20 points for the win. 

Curry was the man, scoring 43 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins scored 17 and added 16 rebounds.

Jayson Tatum scored 23 for Boston and added 11 rebounds, but he only scored one basket in the fourth quarter.  Jaylen Brown scored 21 and Marcus Smart added 18. 

The series is now tied at 2-2 as we go back to the Bay Area for Game 5 with the Warriors back in the driver’s seat with the home court advantage.

DEREK Fisher, the head coach and the general manager of the LA Sparks in the WNBA was fired earlier this week. 

As an NBA player, he won five titles as the PG with the LA Lakers.  He coached the NY Knicks for a season and a half, and later was named head coach of the Sparks in 2019.

The Sparks missed the WNBA playoffs last season for the first time in 10 years.  During this past offseason, they added all-star WNBA post player, Liz Cambage, also a former member of the Opals, and it was anticipated they’d be much better this year. 

But the Sparks have been lacklustre and after the first dozen games, were 5-7.They have had a poor schedule, with nine of their 12 games on the road. 

Things didn’t look like they were going to change much, so Sparks ownership decided it was time to go in a new direction.  Fisher’s overall record with the Sparks was 54-46.

THE Seattle TIMES sportswriter who covers the Seattle Storm had a nice, albeit short piece on how the Storm have underwhelmed this season so far—their record is 6-5—but they’ve also been hit hard by injuries and Covid-caused absences to key starters, so it shouldn’t surprise that they are not at the top of the table at this point.

Now that the roster is complete again, he noted that things could be looking up.  One particular point he made was that Ezi Magbegor “is ascending”. 

With Mercedes Russell out with a non-basketball injury all season until a couple of days ago, Magbegor has stepped into the starter’s spot in the middle. 

How has she been doing?  She leads the lead in blocks with 2.9 per game and is 10th in the league in steals.  She’s also been no slouch in scoring and rebounding, averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per outing. 

She’s doing so well that the Storm coach has hinted that Russell might not immediately slide back into the starting lineup when she’s back in game shape.

Magbegor is doing her best to make the coach’s decision difficult—she continued with that in last week’s win against the Atlanta Dream. 

In 30 minutes, she scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc.  She added seven rebounds, two assists and five blocks.  Magbegor is only 22 and is some respects, is still learning all the nuances of the game. 

Still, I think the Storm will use both Magbegor and Russell in the middle, depending on the opposition’s strength inside.  Russell is 5cm taller and larger of frame and she can clog up the middle more than Magbegor, but Magbegor is quicker and can play outside better. 

An intriguing thought here is, if the situation is right for it:  how about starting and/or playing both of them at the same time?  That’s a pretty tough inside duo for other teams to think about.

Jun 12

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