All due credit to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and especially to LeBron and Kyrie, who showed up big time (38 points for Kyrie, 38/11/9 for LBJ). But the Warriors rope-a-doped them; hung in there until the very end of the game, then struck like a cobra and ended the game on an 11–0 run.
God, it was beautiful. I don’t want to ruin it by talking about it too much. Here:
Of course, there is still the small matter of winning one more game. Am I nervous, thinking back to last year’s epic collapse? Sure, maybe, a little. The odds are astronomical, but you never know…there could be an injury, a brawl, a freak indoor thunderstorm, or some other act of God. But as of this moment right now, how could things be better?
The thing that will probably not be remembered about last night’s game is that the Cavaliers played great. They scored 64 points in the first half – which was still only good for a three-point deficit. Then in the second half they ran into the buzzsaw that is the 2016–17 Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant was everything we ever imagined he might be — blocking shots, dunking, draining 3s, and basically looking more than ever like a fiendishly designed basketball cyborg. Steph Curry had a “quiet” triple-double; ceding a lot of possessions to Durant, then stepping up to make the occasional statement three from the parking lot, or running LeBron in circles for a full possession before casually slicing by him for a layup:
Klay Thompson hit a few shots, and the rest of the team ran like the well-oiled machine they are. It was beautiful to behold.
And here we’re getting into dangerous territory. The Warriors played so well in the first two games of this series that it seems inconceivable that they will lose one. But then I think back to last year, when the W’s were up 3–1 in the Finals and I wrote a gloaty blog post that now haunts me. Game 3 is Wednesday in Cleveland, and I expect (even hope) that the Cavs will play like wild dogs and make things interesting. Time is running out for something dramatic to happen in these playoffs, but it’s not over till it’s over.
Kevin Durant spent a lot of time last night doing this.
There were some anxious moments shortly before 6:00 last night as I waited outside the Arcata Theater Lounge for the doors to open. I was already nervous about the playoff game between the W’s and Cavs, the first since the debacle that was Game 7 of last year’s Finals, and the good people at ATL — whom for the record I dearly love — were not helping by taking their sweet time about letting us in.
But by tipoff I was safely in my seat, martini in hand, and from there on things went swimmingly. There is no official “perfect game” in basketball as there is in baseball, but the Warriors’ performance in Game 1 was about as close as you can get. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more: Kevin Durant’s numerous vicious dunks, Steph Curry’s pull-up 63-footer, or LeBron James’s constant whining and crying.
I say this with all due respect to LeBron, who of late has been making a convincing case to be considered possibly the best player in the history of basketball. But speaking purely objectively, he is a crybaby. He’s used to getting things way and when he doesn’t, he gets real petulant real fast.
And things were not going his way last night. His team turned the ball over a lot, failed repeatedly to play defense, and appeared to visibly quit halfway through the third quarter. The Warriors, meanwhile, tied an NBA record by committing only four turnovers in the entire game. Which leads one to think that this whole thing was probably a little fluky; I don’t know if it’s possible for anyone to consistently be as good as the Warriors were last night. I expect the rest of the series to be a little more competitive. But for one night, it was a lot of fun.