Programming note: Coverage of Game 7 between the Warriors and Clippers starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Channel Locations)
A month ago, the path to Mark Jackson’s future lay in large part on how deep into the playoffs the Golden State Warriors would take him, and vice versa. The sooner they fell, the sooner he would.
That was the logic, anyway. His frictions with upper Lacob-ment, his ever-shrinking pool of assistant coaches, the weirdbucket home losses and the failure to meet unreasonable expectations were all going to be problems for his future.
Now? Nobody knows anything about anything, and those who say they do are simply trying to be revealed as nonsense artists.
The loss of the how-deep-into-the-postseason metric came in stages, first when Andrew Bogut broke individual members of his rib cage, thus punching a hole in the team’s expectation metric. Without Bogut, it would be even harder to evaluate Jackson through this roster than it already was.
Then the Los Angeles Clippers happened, and one of the most bizarre series in sporting history. The Warriors won Game 1 because the game was officiated by tea ladies. The Clippers crushed in Game 2 because stuff happens, and squeaked by in Game 3 because they are objectively better.
Then Donald "history as a racist" Sterling was recast as a racist from the good old days before Appomattox, and the Clippers imploded in Game 4. Then the NBA decided to bring Appomattox to Sterling, and the Clippers won Game 5. And Game 6 was a ghastly mess that the Warriors controlled but won only by a point.
[RELATED: Warriors dig deep, extend series to Game 7]
The point here is, a series that was already disjointed turned into a barefoot walk over shrapnel and broken glass, and now whoever wins will not be able to explain why or how it was done. Nor will any team’s supervisory personnel be able to explain it for them.
And all this happening against the strangest first round in recognizable first round history. Both eight-seeds, one seven and both sixes have taken their betters to seven games, and both of the five-seeds have advanced. It is utter and complete madness, to the point where there is more chalk in the Stanley Cup playoffs than the NBA for the first time since hockey abandoned cobblestones-and-gravel for ice as a playing surface.
In sum, the playoffs are proving less of a barometer than ever, and the Warriors -- win or lose -- are among the most bizarre examples. Against that, how is a coach to be critically evaluated?
• On the up side, 51 wins. On the down, could have been 56. On the side, the better record isn’t as comforting as it used to be.
• On the up side, they play attractive basketball. On the down, they aren’t consistent at it. On the side, who is these days?
• On the up side, the players like Jackson. On the down, 40 percent of the coaches have been reassigned, the front office isn’t sure what Jackson provides tactically, and nobody can fully comprehend the offense. On the side, they always defend -- well, except for Game 2.
• On the up side, Lacob sits in the first row and looks half the time like he is trying to pass a kidney stone the size of a baby’s head. On the down, he celebrates wins like he hit on 19 and won.
So how does this make sense, with Game 7 in the offing? Easy. It doesn’t. Understanding this team will take days, maybe even weeks. Understanding what Jackson’s new contract parameters (in years more than money) will be a hard bit of math, and his attitude toward losing full autonomy over his assistants is hard to gauge.
Game 7 is tonight. If the Warriors win, the party goes on. If not, the party gets weird, as it should be with these guys. They live weird every day, and the last 12 days have put weird in the rear-view mirror and eased into the outskirts of bat-guano insane.
Mark Jackson will be this team’s coach for a while, then. Whether it’s a couple of weeks or a few years is something nobody can dope out properly -- but you may be sure that liars will say they have.
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