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Warriors’ comebacks an entertaining but dangerous game

Let’s pretend.

You’re the coach of a basketball team. A real good team. In fact, a team so exceedingly talented that it sometimes seems bored. Your team especially has a knack for roaring out of the halftime locker room and overwhelming the suddenly pitiable opponent.

Double-digit deficit? No big deal. Hostile arena? Pshaw. Your guys simply flip a switch.

As a coach, is this Superman syndrome concerning to you? By that I mean, the expectation that all your players have to do is cram themselves into a phone booth, emerge with capes and an attitude, and turn into galaxy-beaters?

“I think you would be concerned about that,” said Mark Jackson, who played in the NBA for 17 seasons, coached (the Warriors) for three seasons, and as an analyst for ESPN will be covering the NBA Finals for the 10th time. “I’m sure that Steve Kerr is preaching the same message; that they can’t continue to fall into these traps where they find themselves down at halftime to the point where they have to turn it on and play with a sense of urgency and climb back. To their credit, they do have that in their arsenal where they have the ability to make the proper adjustments, not panic and then take care of business.”

That arsenal allowed them to lead the NBA in third quarter scoring this season. It also allowed them to overcome a 17-point first quarter deficit in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. The Warriors trailed by 10 at the half, and embarrassed the Rockets 64-25 in the second half.

The formula worked again in Game 7, in which the Warriors trailed by 15 points in the second quarter. They trounced Houston 58-38 in the second half.

But the Rockets tugged on Superman’s cape in Game 2, outscoring the Warriors 63-55 in the second half. Defense was a problem that night. And the Warriors were unable flip the switch in Game 4 (shooting 35 percent while being outscored 25-12 in the fourth quarter), and in Game 5 (committing 11 turnovers while being outscored 53-49 in the second half).

The Warriors’ come-from-behind proclivity is hardly new to sports. Silky Sullivan was a thoroughbred who specialized in scarcely believable comeback efforts. Check out this race from early 1958. You won’t believe your eyes:

American distance runner Dave Wottle was a two-legged Silky Sullivan. He came from far off the pace, taking down two Kenyans and a Soviet to win the gold medal in the 800 meters at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Closer to home, the A’s reached the postseason four consecutive years from 2000-03, starting slowly and then — at the 61-game mark — Wottle-ing out of the pack with finishes of 58-42 (overcoming an 18-game deficit), 72-29, 72-29 and 62-39.

That kind of derring-do makes for a great show. Thing is, you can’t always script the ending.


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