For Warriors this could be goodbye to Oracle—and Durant
10:31 PM
Art Spander

  OAKLAND—Draymond Green made it sound simple enough and quite encouraging. “We just got to win the next game,” he said, “go back to Toronto, win Game 5, come back to Oracle, win Game 6 and then celebrate.”

   An athlete has to think positively, has to believe, so Draymond’s enthusiasm, deserved or not, is both understood and for Warriors fans appreciated. No player is going to concede, especially after he’s become a champion.

  And yet there may be nothing to celebrate.

  The Warriors after Game 3 of the 2019 NBA finals on Friday night may never again play at Oracle Arena, their home for 47 years,

  Kevin Durant, still declared out because of the injury to his right calf, may never again play for the Warriors, his home for three years,

  Nothing lasts forever, particularly sporting eras. Change is a constant, if not the result of time, then of fortune—or misfortune.

   The beginning of this season the Warriors were overwhelming favorites to win another championship.

   From the season opener in October to the start of the playoffs in April, the Warriors were called invincible, their winning of a third straight title and fourth in five years inevitable.

  But now, down two games to one to a Raptors team that appears physically and athletically superior; now without Durand and Kevon Looney and wondering what they’ll get from Klay Thompson, returning; now with Toronto holding the home court advantage, the words invincible and inevitable seem foolish.

 On Thursday, in the cold light of day—well, outside of the arena, where Green, always the spokesperson, was confronted by a journalist about the Warriors problems.

  “”They seem to have an answer for you guys,” the writer told Green, they being the Raptors. “Every time you hit a big shot (Wednesday night) they came up with something.”

  Which, of course is how a team wins games and perhaps championships.

 Will Klay, back after missing Game 3 and being missed on both defense and offense, make a difference?

  “I think having Klay back is important,” said Green. “When you talk about missing Klay, Kevin and Kevon (no lack of first names beginning with the letter K is there?) “obviously everything will point to the opposite end. But they’re three of our top five or six defenders, and I think that’s equally or even more important than the offensive side of the ball.

   “Like we still scored 109 points (Wednesday) night. That’s enough points to win. We have won with 109.”

   Not when the opposition is scoring 123.

 .The litany as preached by Warriors management (and that of most basketball teams, college on up) is defense creates offense.  A rebound off the other team’s errant shot or a stolen pass, can be turned into, if not an easy shot, then an uncontested one.

  The Celtics did it in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Bulls in the ‘80s, the Lakers in the ‘90s and early 2000s and now the Warriors. But Wednesday night the Warriors defense was lacking—the Raptors shot 52 percent, 44 percent on threes—and the offense was stagnant.

  “Our defense was poor,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, an observation repeated after almost every defeat, “and in particular several times leaving Danny (Green) when we didn’t need to--and he’s a shooter who commands attention and respect.”

  Green, Danny of the Raptors, was 6 of 10 on field goal attempts, and scored 18, Green, Draymond of the Warriors, was 6 of 14 for 17 points. But Draymond Green had little help on offense (other than Steph Curry’s fantastic burst of 47 points) and veritably no help at all on defense.,

  Too many personnel moves (no Klay, no Looney), Too many mistakes, “Combination of all that,” said Kerr. “When you change the lineups and you’re without key guys you’re ending up with five guys on the floor who generally haven’t played together a whole lot. So while the effort was there the execution was not.

  “And as we watched (Thursday) morning we saw all kinds of stuff that we did poorly that we have to clean up. We will be more comfortable (Friday) and much better.”

   It they’re not, the Warriors will have seen the last of Oracle. And probably Kevin Durant.

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