Harrison Barnes missed the chance to dagger the Dubs and it felt great
Thanks for being you when the Warriors needed it most HB!
Dub Nation, I gotta take a second to talk about the Harrison Barnes-related end to Game 4 when the Golden State Warriors outlasted the Sacramento Kings 126-125.
HB scored 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field (1-of-6 from deep), with 3 rebounds and 1 assist. That’s not the most efficient night scoring the ball for the Black Falcon.
On the other hand, the Dubs had pretty efficient scoring on him Sunday. The defending champs shot 8-of-16 from the field when Barnes was the primary defender. And if you take away Draymond Green’s 2-of-7 performance when HB was locked on him, the rest of the Dubs shot 6-of-9 on Barnes.
In the spirit of full disclosure, when the Warriors would size up Barnes on defense I would already start preemptively celebrating. And that’s no disrespect to HB who is known to be a sturdy defender.
That’s more about the fact that it’s just really satisfying for me to watch HB get cooked by the Dubs all these years after he turned down their contract offer. And right or wrong, Barnes became an easy scapegoat for the failure of that team to win it all in 2016.
During Game 4 the thought crossed my mind as to how many times HB must’ve guarded Curry in countless practices and 1v1 battles during his time as a Warrior. Barnes probably played with pre-All-Star Curry AND two-time MVP aka Mr. Unanimous darn near every day.
Which means Curry also knows exactly how to get his shot off over the Black Falcon. So you better believe I started immediately clapping my hands and barking “EASY MONEY” when Barnes picked up Curry full-court in the final minute of the second quarter.
Curry giddily protected his dribble while he toggled his speed from “The Little Train That Could” to a brief acceleration into “Sonic the Hedgehog'“, sending Barnes heavy feet into a skid that Curry knew full well would provide him a sliver of space to unleash from 27 feet away.
It probably only seems like a sliver of space to mere mortals like myself, but to the greatest shooter of all-time, a defender sliding on their back foot as Curry smoothly hops into his shooting motion must seem like a Grand Canyon of space to Steph.
And that’s why with the game tied at 78 midway through the 3rd quarter, with the Dubs thirstily searching for separation from the feisty Kings, I took a sigh of relief when Barnes got into his best defensive stance on Curry at the arc. “Barbecued chicken” I muttered to myself. Barnes’ positioning and body language showed he damned sure was gonna stop Curry from heaving up another delicious triple; which immediately triggered the greatest point guard alive to blow by HB for the easy left handed layup.
There’s no shame in getting baked by Curry. But I found it oh so satisfying to see the face of the Golden State dynasty turning the disgruntled castoff into the hoops equivalent of target practice.
I recall the end of Game 1 where Wiggins, the man that people didn’t even think would be as good as Barnes as a Warrior, missed a wide-open, potential game winner 3PT. And even though he missed it, in his first game back after a couple months absence, I didn’t get a sinking feeling like, “WHY DID HE TAKE THAT SHOT?!”. It was more like a pained expression, with a shoulder shrug followed by exclaiming, “He got a good look!”.
I’m not sure when HB burnt up that level of confidence and goodwill from me and apparently many other in Dub Nation. I know it was during the 2016 Finals but WHICH brick from HB was the one where everyone collectively said “this guy is a brickmason”.
But let’s not forget he once shot 40% from beyond the arc as a Dub! And I absolutely remember him daggering the Philadelphia 76ers to protect one of those magical 73 wins during ‘16.
And yet by the time he departed, his name was associated in Dub Nation with wide-open misses and shrinking from the clutch moments. But don’t take my word for it, even Kings’ NBC news reported it:
“Barnes still faces criticism from Warriors fans for his shortcomings in the 2016 NBA Finals. A starter for Golden State, Barnes shot 15.6 percent from the field (5 for 32) over the last three games as the Warriors infamously failed to close out the Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after grabbing a three-games-to-one series lead. Those ended up being Barnes' final three games in a Warriors uniform.”
Sunday afternoon when the Warriors were reeling from some of the most pathetic late game gaffes in their dynastic history, I did not feel good about the champs’ prospects to win the game.
What gaffes you ask? Oh just Curry inexplicably calling a timeout with none remaining to give up a technical free throw + De’Aaron Fox drilling a three-pointer over Green to make it a one-point GSW lead + Curry rushing up a bricked floater with 10 seconds left on the game clock to give the Kings one last opportunity to win the game.
When Sacramento put the ball into Fox’s hands, my brain swirled with all the outcomes I did not want. Like Fox blowing by for a dunk, or throwing up one of his picture perfect floaters from a wild angle, or getting fouled on a ticky tack play, or finding a wide open shooter like he’s done so many times this series.
So when Curry bodied Fox 35 feet from the basket to start the possession, I felt anxiety tighten my gut. “DON’T FOUL!”. And when the referees kept their whistles silent and Fox got his dribble going again, I saw Draymond Green leap over to help. Well, that nixed that dunk/floater option!
But at what cost? LEAVING A WIDE OPEN KINGS PLAYER ON THE WING. The player? Harrison freakin’ Barnes. Curry hurriedly rotated over, but it was too late, Barnes was already confidently elevating into his shooting motion.
That’s a good look for Barnes! Thankfully he missed or the Kings would have taken a very hefty 3-1 lead back to their home fans in Sacramento. There’s a rumor going around that the celebratory moment between Steph and Draymond immediately after that errant killshot was them cackling because they knew HB was gonna miss.
Hmmm inconclusive. Level headed Klay Thompson shared what was going through his mind on HB’s shot at the 47 second mark of this next clip:
And last but not least, here’s the Black Falcon himself speaking on it in what I felt to be a quietly resilient and revelatory moment. Listen to how he speaks about the context of missing that game winner in Game 4 after what he went through in the 2016 Finals.
Wow that hit home. HB seems like a pretty chill guy, and he’s one heckuva NBA vet. It’s tough for him and his team that that dagger didn’t go down…
…but we here in Dub Nation have seen this movie before. Job’s still not done , but the ending of that game was a refreshing close to an extremely tense basketball contest.
Thanks Black Falcon!