Basketball season is upon us

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Basketball season is upon us

Taylor Lambert

As much as I love football and covering it in the high school ranks, this time of year starts to get a little cold, wet, and well... cold again. Standing on the sideline for nearly three hours every Friday night in the frigid temperatures and rain isn't the most amazing assignment.

While the football postseason is exciting and fun to cover, I do find myself peaking around the corner for basketball season and it's friendly confines of a covered, heated and well-lit basketball gym. Not to mention, basketball season around these parts is pretty special.

The talent in the Bay Area this season is second to none, with Aaron Gordon at Mitty, Jabari Bird at Salesian, Marcus Lee at Deer Valley, all in pretty much everyone's top 30 recruits lists in the nation. There's countless other top athletes who'll be headed to college to play as well. There's just something about basketball season which breeds excitement and this season should be no different.

My favorite place to cover hoops is the Oakland Athletic League with it's free wheeling style of play and amazing student-athletes on the floor. The excitement at an OAL game is through the roof! My favorite is when the home team throws down a dunk, the crowd explodes and you can feel the re-verb in your sternum. The OAL just knows how to put on a show and if you attend a game you will not be disappointed.

I'd also like to mention a team I'll be watching especially close this season... Deer Valley up in Antioch. When starting at Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area last year, the Deer Valley squad was the first team I interviewed and they were awesome. Starting with big man Marcus Lee -- who recently committed to Kentucky -- they're an imposing force. It's not just Lee, though, the Wolverines also have a standout point man in Kendall Smith who plays with much flair and determination. I really think Deer Valley can make some noise this season and stand up to the traditional powers in the area. Only time will tell, but I know I'm darn excited about it...  and warmer, and dryer, and happier.

Long live basketball season!

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

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AP

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series opener in Chicago:

Giants (19-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Ty Blach (R) P (1-2, 4.15 ERA)

Cubs (22-20) 
1. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. John Lackey (R) P (4-3, 4.37 ERA)

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

Entering the NBA Finals 12-0 'would be irrelevant' to the Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- The Specter of 73 haunts the Warrior still and you can feel it in their dismissive, yes-but responses to being on the brink of yet another entry into the NBA record book.

Though they do not believe their pursuit and achievement last season of an NBA-record 73 wins sabotaged their chances for a championship, it is evident the Warriors came away with diminished appreciation of gaudy numbers.

They can add to their list of shiny accomplishments Monday night. A victory over the Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals would make the Warriors the first team ever to open the playoffs with three four-game sweeps and a 12-0 record.

“My wife asked me this morning: What if you guys win and you’re 12-0?” general manager Bob Myers told NBCBayAreaSports.com Monday afternoon. “Well, for me, the record thing kind of got screwed up last year.”

Yes, the record thing. The Warriors chased 73 and got 73 and yet they’ll be known just as much, if not more, as the first team to blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

“It’s all about 16,” Stephen Curry told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Getting to 16 wins in the postseason means getting to the top. Winning it all. The very thing the Warriors did not accomplish a year ago.

They are one win away from being three-quarters of the way there.

“Going 12-0 sounds great,” Curry said. “But it probably would have happened if the Lakers would have played a seven-game series to start the run through the playoffs.”

The Lakers twice swept their first three postseason series -- in 1989 and 2001 -- but in both instances the first round was best-of-five. Both streaks ended at 11 in a row.

The Warriors seem to view numbers as decoration, ancillary components to the primary. They may have felt that way all along, but going through what they did last season, losing The Finals to the Cavaliers, provided an acute sense of context.

“It’s unfortunate that we put so much into the last game of the season, or winning the whole thing because there are a lot of things that we, as an organization, should be proud of no matter what happens,” Myers said. “But it’s hard, knowing where were last year, to see that regular-season record and then not win the championship. It’s a mixed feeling.

“So when you talk about records and numbers and things like that, and you know what it’s like to win a championship and you know what it’s like to lose, it’s hard to put them in proper perspective.”

The Warriors have made it clear they are less than impressed with their average victory margin of 16.5 points through the first 11 games in these playoffs. The record is 14.5, set by the Bucks in 1971.

They’re not buying into the hype generated by leading all playoff teams in points per game (117.4) and field-goal percentage (49.7) and field-goal percentage defense (41.6).

Numbers. Just numbers. Like, for example, 73.

“To know that we have a great regular-season record and a tiny little banner in our practice facility, “ Myers said, “it doesn’t feel like it should.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say it doesn’t mean anything. But it’s hard to really understand what it means right now. And knowing that we’ve been in the midst of all these numbers and records and road-win records and things like that, you get lost in it in good and bad ways. It’s fantastic, but also what does it mean? Because what we’re really trying to do is win a championship.”

Which, of course, comes back to numbers.

“You can learn lessons in winning and you can learn lessons in losing,” Curry said. “It’s just a matter of how you respond from game to game. But 12-0 would be irrelevant come next series.”