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Golden State Bruins

Sam Allen from the Daily Bruin has a pretty interesting read on the Golden State Bruins:

In an era when the ties between NCAA universities and NBA teams have been all but severed by early entries to the draft, it's rare to hear any school mentioned during the playoffs.

But the Golden State Warriors are breaking a lot of trends this postseason, and they're waving a UCLA banner as they do it.

The Warriors are facing the Dallas Mavericks, defending Western Conference champions and owners of the league's best record, and they have them on the ropes with a 3-2 series lead. Golden State was minutes away from the ultimate upset last night, squandering a nine-point fourth quarter lead. The team will have another shot Thursday night at home in Oakland.

Dallas looked invincible entering the series with a 67-15 record and a chip on its shoulder from last year's loss in the finals. Yet the young Warriors have made them look entirely human, taking game 1 in Dallas and then 2 in Oakland. All of a sudden, the NBA could see a top seed fall in the first round for the first time in 8 years.

The Warriors are led by a former Bruin, Baron Davis. The point guard has had the best statistical season of his career and started in 60 games for the first time since '03-'04. Davis has averaged over 25 points a game in the series.

When Davis went down at the beginning of his sophomore season (his last at UCLA) with an injury, he was replaced by sophomore Matt Barnes. Barnes went on to enjoy a solid four-year career at UCLA while Davis became a star in the pro league. Barnes bounced around the NBA after being selected in the 2002 Draft, playing for the Clippers, Sixers, Kings, and Knicks.

Davis and Barnes were reunited at the beginning of this season, and Barnes has finally found some stability alongside his former UCLA teammate. He has finally cracked an NBA starting lineup after four seasons and has been a valuable addition to Golden State's rotation.

During broadcasts, the bond between Davis and Barnes has been an obvious topic of discussion because two UCLA greats have been announcing the games; Reggie Miller on TNT and Bill Walton on ESPN. Miller has emphasized the Westwood link in his thoughtful, articulate style. The eccentric Walton, always proud of his glorious college career, has been sure to characterize the journeyman Barnes as a "UCLA great."

The matchups resonate with longtime Bruin fans, too. Mavericks point guard Jason Terry starred at Arizona while Davis and Barnes were at UCLA. Davis beat the Wildcats just once in his two years at UCLA. But he has gotten the best of Terry almost a decade later, dominating the Arizona alum on the grand stage of the NBA playoffs.
I am really happy to see Baron and Matt doing so well in the NBA. I think everyone kind of expected Baron to have a great career in the NBA. Matt on the other hand snuck up on lot of folks who are not closely alligned with UCLA. To me Matt's emergence as NBA star has been nothing short of awesome. I always liked this kid's game in Westwood. Despite being saddled with a joke of a basketball "coach," he kept chipping away. He kept working away and developed his game year by year. And now he has found himself the perfect fit. One can only imagine what this kid would have done at UCLA if he had the opportunity to play for a coach like Howland.

In any event that's all water under the bridge. I am not really following the NBA playoffs that closely anymore (I don't follow pro sports on a day to day basis as I do with UCLA athletics. I used to back in the day when professional sports actually meant ... well that's for whole another post some day). Lakers are a joke and the whole league is boring. But it would be very cool to see Baron and Matt keep the Bruin show going. For more on the Warriors check out our SBN colleagues over at Golden State of Mind. Just like Baron and Matt that place is blowing up.