Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors began similarly to the arc of Game 3, with Spurs defenders clamping down on the Warrior back court of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. The Warriors were held to a post-season low of 38% shooting, but when they needed to in the fourth quarter and overtime, they shot almost 50% from the floor - earning them the a thrilling, come from behind 97-87 victory and sending the series back to Texas for Game 5 on Tuesday.
Klay remembers the Alamo
Early in the first quarter, Curry nailed two three pointers helping Golden State built an early 11-6 lead while prompting me to think, "Holy shit, we're going to blow them out." But my maniacal thoughts didn't stop there, "And if Memphis knocks of Oklahoma, then it's a six seed against a five seed - anything can happen. And one injury to the Big Three, especially LeBron, oh that would be AWESOME. Yes, LeBron goes down, Miami loses to Indiana, and then Roy Hibbert goes down, too, and Lee's hip flexor re-attaches to his bone, and they change the home court advantage rules. Actually, never mind, the Warriors steal Game 1 and then sweep back at Oracle and the crowd goes nuts celebrating its first championship since 1975. And with all those rookies. This could be a dynasty. Man, I picked a great time to become a Warriors fan."
Before I was finished, San Antonio tightened up their defense and went on a 14-0 run. "They're going to lose in five. Dammit, Marco was right." Eight minutes into the game and I was already in full roller coaster mode. "This can't be healthy," I thought, empathizing with lifelong Warrior fans. I tried to call Marco to see if he was okay. No answer. I'm sure he was too busy pacing or asking his wife to check his pulse and get 911 on speed dial.
Golden State finished the quarter strong thanks to eight straight points by my favorite Warrior of the day, Harrison Barnes, but then failed to close out a last-second triple by Manu Ginobli as time expired. The bumpy ride of exhilaration and nausea continued until the Warriors were trailing by nine about half way through the second quarter. They couldn't buy a bucket and I didn't foresee any bucket sales in their near future. It was then I decided it had been a good year for the Warriors, but the magic carpet ride looks like it's coming to an abrupt end. I stood up, turned off the TV, and went outside for a little sunshine and family.
When I checked back in an hour later, Tony Parker was making his classic jump shot to give the Spurs a 62-60 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 62-60? "Holy shit," I thought, "They could pull this out," and I was right back where I was in the first quarter, sitting in my glider ten feet from the TV, rocking to and fro as though my rhythm just might help the Warriors shooting woes. When the Spurs began the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run, I was cursing Golden State's shot selection and their defensive lapses, convinced that San Antonio was just toying with them like a cat with it's half-dead prey.
Then Jarrett Jack happened - a bunch. And so did Klay Thompson. And the Warriors somehow managed to send the game to overtime where they could do no wrong, outscoring the Spurs 10-3 and sending the series back to San Antonio knotted at two games apiece. They did it. They played smart, they used time outs, they made shots, and they closed out a game. This, in my world of parenting and toddlers, is what we call a growth spurt.
And we thought we were going to have to give up an ATS pick by choosing with our hearts. Karma and Curry, that's all we need to keep on winning.
POST-SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 41-16 ATS
CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS: 11-2 ATS
CONFIDENCE EFFICIENCY RATING (CER): 81/114 or .71
TOP CONFIDENCE PICKS THROUGH DAY 23: 16-6 ATS
Today, just to prove we don't just go with the favorites when they're not called the Golden State Warriors, we're taking a couple of dogs - one at home and one on the road. Today's a rush job all around, but trust me when I say we put a lot of time into the picks. And when I say "a lot of time," I mean, "What's Marco, I kind of like the Bulls tomorrow."
Oklahoma City Thunder (+4.5) over MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Until the first quarter on Saturday, this series hadn't seen a lead larger than five points. The only reason we got the cover that day was the back door free throws you sometimes see in basketball. That being said, we believe this game comes down to the wire. We're not sure if OKC has enough to send it back home tied at two, but they have enough to lose by four or less. Confidence Rating: 2
CHICAGO BULLS (+7.5) over Miami Heat: If anyone can give me a reason why an extra day of rest doesn't favor Chicago here, then I'll consider changing my unpublished pick. As it is, this is the most down time the Bulls starters have had in weeks. Coach T probably just had them on bed rest, drinking large amounts of HGH and cortisone smoothies. Add a surprise appearance from Hinrich, Deng, or Rose, and you have a recipe for a three game series that starts in Miami on Wednesday. Take the Bulls and the points. Confidence Rating: 1
Happy Betting, everyone. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and celebrated the powerful women that brought you or your children into the world.
Vinny and Marco
BONUS COVERAGE FROM KYLE'S CORNER IN CANADA
I'll update my totals tomorrow because I'm quickly rushing this write-up. We have two very exciting basketball games tonight so I'm going to be very selective here and only make a few picks. Sorry about yesterday - biggest statistical anomaly I've seen in years.
Toronto @ Boston: Game 7 in Boston: Boston should take this game and it should be a close 2-1 type of finish. So Under 5.5.
New York @ Washington: This is going to be an insane game I can't WAIT TO WATCH, I'm leaning Washington but golly it's close. Most certainly under 5.5.
Hot Pitcher ride:
I'm so freakin' hot.
STL: Lynn (5-1, 2.72 ERA)
PIT: Burnett (3-3, 2.57 ERA)
DET: Sanchez (3-3, 1.97 ERA)
CHW: Santiago (1-1, 1.69 ERA)
WSH: Zimmermann (6-1, 1.59 ERA)
Overs: going conservative today to gauge.
TEX: Grimm (2-2, 3.45 ERA) @ OAK: Griffin (3-3, 3.83 ERA)
KC: Mendoza (0-2, 6.38 ERA) @ LAA: Blanton (0-6, 5.66 ERA)
STL: Team over
DET: Team over
CHW: Team over
STL: Team over
DET: Team over
CHW: Team over