Perhaps the most amazing part of this latest Nets deconstruction is how confusingly it happened. It began with the Warriors falling prey to an MVP-worthy defensive performance from Mr. Whammy, who hexed the Warriors into nine missed free throws in 14 attempts. The Nets fell behind by 15 in the first quarter. All seemed lost. I wondered if Stephen Curry would even need to play after his first stretch.
There was little the Nets could muster, until there was. The Warriors defense suffocated Brooklyn’s simple schemes, cutting off pick-and-rolls and forcing early turnovers with double-teams. But the Nets pulled off a rapid-fire 12-0 run to close the first half by thriving in chaos, whether it was Shane Larkin disrupting transition opportunities or Thaddeus Young creating surprise looks and pulling off smart double-teams.
It worked, for a moment. the Nets stretched an actual five-point lead by taking advantage of Warriors misses and pounding the ball in the paint.
But there is an inescapable inevitability to the Warriors. Whether it comes in the form of Stephen Curry pulling up for a three-pointer before the crowd is ready to react, or Draymond Green leading a fast break that creates an open shot, or Klay Thompson dipping and firing in the blink of an eye, it’s hard to watch this Warriors team and not get swept up in the aura. They have core tenets of a modern NBA team that the Nets lack, notably reliable three-point shooting and near-pristine defensive communication.
The switch was never in their control. It was only a matter of when the Warriors decided to flip it.