Breakfast Special: Andre Iguodala’s Veteran Leadership

You know we don’t go in much for eye test here at Pace and Space, and we especially don’t go in much for fuzzy “intangible” narratives that don’t have hard numbers to back them up.

But how do you explain the Warriors’ repeated lapses of concentration when they had the chance to put the Rockets away both early and late?

After all, the team led 12-0 almost before the Rockets got their warmups off. They led 82-70 in the fourth quarter.

And in both cases, the Rockets erased the double-digit lead; in the latter case, they made Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson look the way they did in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, where they straight-up choked late in the game and let LeBron James cement his legacy as the greatest sports hero in Cleveland in 50 years.

You start to wonder…if they had Andre Iguodala out there, would he have been able to change the timbre of the game both offensively and defensively to both avoid giving away the early lead and keep the team from playing the last four minutes with their hands firmly clamped on their own throats?

Because when they jumped out to a lead in Game 3, they put their foot on the throat of the Rockets and didn’t stop pouring in the offense until they’d broken Houston’s neck.

But now, home court advantage is back with the Rockets, “Dubs in 6” seems a million miles away, and it’s a best-of-3 with two games in Houston.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Unless they take this as a sign that, as Curry put it out of context, they need to actually start taking the series seriously (?!) and they therefore march into Toyota Center and grind the Rockets into a fine paste in Game 5.

Ain’t basketball fun?

More to the point, though, this was the first game in the playoffs to be decided by one possession since the Celtics beat the Sixers by two points in Game 5 of the second round back on May 9.

We should not have to wait two weeks for good basketball in the playoffs.

What’s more, this was only the fifth game in the entire league decided by four points or fewer since the second round began; the Cavaliers and Pacers had five games in a seven-game series decided by that margin.

Point is, the conference finals have sucked so far, and may this be the turning point.

Oh, and what the hell were the refs doing? Houston attempted 27 free throws (making 23); Golden State was 13-of-14. Houston had 19 fouls called on them; Golden State had 24.

Playing 5-on-8 in a 95-92 loss…man, the NBA has such a serious officiating credibility problem that even if the games aren’t rigged (and there is no actual reason to believe that match-fixing is involved), the mere public perception that the referees affect the games is enough to do serious damage to the Association’s brand.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 55 points in this one…on 19-of-50 (38 percent) shooting.

Meanwhile, James Harden had an absolute whiplash game in terms of starting 7-of-13, going just 2-of-8 in his next eight tries, then making two of his last five to finish with 30 points on 11-of-26.

Do not tell me he is taking over games the way LeBron James takes over games. He is no LeBron, and the possibility of a Rockets-Cavs finals in which LeBron takes Harden out behind the woodshed and beats him like a piñata fills me with joy.

Chris Paul, on the other hand…27 points on 10-of-20. 5-of-9 from three, even. Good on ya, mate.

And while we’re on the subject of the Rockets’ shot distribution, how about Mike D’Antoni deciding that the best rotation for a pivotal Game 4 was to use one that wouldn’t be out of place at a college game?

Only seven Rockets played. Eric Gordon played 35 minutes off the bench; Gerald Green played 14 (and, at plus-14, led all Rockets in plus/minus in a game they won by three.)

This leaves open an interesting question…is winning worth pissing off the entire bench unit as they get no playing time because the coach doesn’t trust them? Will D’Antoni really have the cheek to pull this in Game 5? Or the Finals?

And how about P.J. Tucker, who played 44 minutes, did not make a single shot in just four tries, yet finished with four points off free throws, 16 rebounds, two steals, and a block? That is impact in other ways right there.

Harden, Paul, and Gordon combined for 71 points. That’s 74.7 percent of the team’s scoring. Dear gods.

Anyway, here’s Harden murdering Draymond Green in cold blood:

And some #bearding:

And the total collapse of the Warriors down the stretch:

CP3? Yeah, him too:

Meanwhile, the Celtics and Cavs shift back to Boston…we got ourselves a couple of series, so stay tuned for the highlights and thanks for reading!