Last night was possibly the hardest I’ve ever worked as a basketball fan. I spent most of the game standing about two feet from the screen, often in a defensive crouch if the Rockets had the ball. This was good for my calves but maybe not for my heart, which has suffered a lot of sports-related stress over the last week.
Despite all my efforts the first quarter went horribly wrong, with the Warriors misfiring left and right, committing turnover after turnover, while everything the Rockets threw up seemed to find the bottom of the net. After one quarter Houston led 39–22 and all over the Dub Nation the faithful were contemplating methods of self-harm.
The W’s found their footing a little in the 2nd and managed to go to halftime down only 10. This was considerably better than the worst-case scenario that had seemed about to unfold, but hardly reassuring. I spent the whole halftime break pacing back and forth between the living room and the office, firing off alternately despairing and hopeful text messages to my fellow fans.
Then the second half started, and all of a sudden it was like someone had taken the kryptonite away. The Warriors scored 11 straight points — including two Klay Thompson threes, one by Steph Curry, and a nasty Kevin Durant dunk — and never looked back. They led by 7 at the end of the quarter, and never once in the 4th did Houston look capable of getting back in the game.
Much was made in the postgame commentary of Houston’s fatigue — without Chris Paul they were basically using a 6-man rotation and seemed to run out of gas down the stretch. But it looked to me like the W’s just rediscovered their mojo. Steph was dancing and raining long bombs like Chef Curry the Baby-Faced Assassin Human Torch that we love so well; Klay was dropping them in from all over the court and shouting “We ain’t going home!” with uncharacteristic fury. (It seems uncharitable to point out that the Warriors were, in fact, at home. What they were trying to do was get to Houston for Game 7 — but we knew what Klay meant.)
And not a moment too soon. Twould have been a long offseason if we had gone out that way, losing three in a row to a team lacking its All-Star point guard. Now even if the worst were to happen in Game 7, the Nation could hold its head up and look the world in the eye.
Meanwhile, there will also be a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, starting about two hours from now. No team has won a game on the road in that series, and Game 7 is in Boston, which would appear to favor the Celtics. But they will have to contend with LeBron James, who has been playing like an übermensch throughout these playoffs, striving to buttress his argument to be considered The Best Player Ever.
You’ll never hear me say it. There is a circuit in my brain that would cause me to self-destruct if I ever tried to utter a sentence in the form of “LeBron James is (insert word connoting superiority) than Michael Jordan.” And I’d like to stick around, at least until we see what happens in Houston tomorrow.