Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ways to Win

It's been a very good week for the San Francisco Giants.  They swept their seven game road trip, for the first time since 1913, ending it with an 8 game winning streak overall.  Meanwhile the Dodgers were losing, and the Giants go home in first place, 3.5 games ahead.

But the best news for the Giants continued to be starting pitching.  After Peavy and Cain had their best outings, the Big Three at the top of the rotation came within an inning of three complete game victories in a row over the Padres in San Diego.  Bumgarner and Cueto got them, and Samardzija got his victory with 8 strong innings pitched.  And again, the Giants scored just enough runs to win, usually on the back of a single home run: Crawford on Tuesday, Pence on Wednesday, Crawford again on Thursday.

Things may be a little different at home, though.  They host the extremely hot Cubs for three, and match up the end of their rotation with the top of Chicago's.  But Jake Peavy against one of the 2 or 3 best, if not the best pitchers this year--Jake Arieta--should provide some extra motivation for the Giants.

As suggested here last time, the Golden State Warriors went into the Western Conference Finals a little beat up, especially an ineffective Andrew Bogut, and lost a close one to the Oklahoma Thunder in the first game.  The Dubs righted the ship on Wednesday, however, with one of their patented third quarter blowouts that the bench maintained in the fourth.  Steph Curry found a new way to amaze by scoring 15 third quarter points in just over two minutes.

I don't know if it was by design, but that third quarter blitz--the great defense, the unstoppable Curry (who had an 8 point flurry late in the first half, but was relatively quiet the rest of the game)--not only added to their lead but took away the kind of run that Durant and Westbrook had in the first game's third quarter.

Bogut still looked hurt but Festus Ezeli had a very good game, and looks like a good match-up against the Thunder.  Best of all, the Warriors found ways to execute their ball movement offense despite the long-limbed defense of the Thunder.  They also found their own defense and rebounding, and the second unit played more and better--all good signs.  The series could still go 7 but the Warriors in 6 wouldn't surprise me.

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