Grantland Fantasy Booking the 2015 NBA Playoffs: What are the Warriors' Chances?
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Basketball
Even in a scripted world, sometimes the story could have been better. In the real world? The options are endless:
Take the Warriors, for example. Many NBA observers still remain unconvinced of their championship potential, even though Golden State has the eighth-best point differential in league history. If dumping Mark Jackson was the narrative equivalent of Odysseus conquering Troy (or Daniel Bryan toppling the Authority), then this season has been like The Odyssey (or Bryan’s injury-plagued victory lap).
The Warriors are an all-time great regular-season team, but they still get eye rolls from casual fans. If you superimposed their record and advanced statistics onto a team with built-in respect like the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State would be hailed as a historically great team. Despite the considerable efforts of Grantland’s Zach Lowe and other heady NBA writers, there remains a sense that the Warriors still haven’t quite received the amount of respect and praise they deserve this season.
The only way for the Warriors to earn that respect is to take the trophy. So how would I fantasy-book the Warriors’ playoff run? They dominate the Pelicans in the first round, dismember the Clippers in the second, and then barge into the Kawhi Leonard–led Spurs slaughterhouse in the Western Conference finals. They trade punches through the first six games, and then in the closing seconds of Game 7, with the Spurs up two, Curry leaps and elbows Tim Duncan in the face (no call, naturally), strips the ball, and drives down court for what would be a game-winning 3 — and he misses. Curry collapses on the court, buries his head in his hands, and is lifted up by his teammates. Suddenly, Duncan charges over, as if he’s still irate from the elbow — but then he extends his palm for a handshake. Curry accepts, the Spurs win one last title, Duncan retires, and the Warriors win three out of the next four NBA championships.
See how this works? Now let’s go team by team, fantasy-booking their paths to the NBA’s promised land...