The NBA Finals got underway last night, and not a moment too soon; after a week-plus of Super Bowl–style blather and hype, it was great to see some basketball being played.
The result of the game was not what I would call “good.” Although as this map shows, most of the continent would disagree with me:
It is assumed that all of Canada was rooting for the Raptors, who were making history just by appearing in the Finals. Also historic: This was the first time in their five-year run that the Warriors played Game 1 of the Finals on the road, and the first time they lost.
The Warriors lost. I just keep saying this, because though I had been telling anyone who would listen that the W’s needed to be worried about the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard — who is playing at a Jordanesque level right now — in practice I was not quite prepared for it. Fortunately I had inoculated myself against any pain I might have felt with a large Redwood Rye Manhattan.
So what happened? Well, the Raptors made shots and the Warriors didn’t. It’s that kind of league, as ex-Warriors coach and Finals analyst Mark Jackson will tell you. Speaking of which, congrats to MJ, who with partner Jeff Van Gundy is poised to challenge Bill Walton’s record for how annoying a basketball announcer can be — no small accomplishment, believe me.
In truth, everything about ABC’s presentation of the Finals is subpar except Doris Burke, a lonely voice crying out in a wilderness of idiocy. But we as fans must steel ourselves against this adversity and carry on.
Game 2 is on Sunday. Hopefully the Dubs will do less missing and more making. But even if they don’t and must go back to Oakland down 0–2, it promises to be an exciting and dramatic series, especially with Kevin Durant waiting in the wings. KD has missed the better part of a month now with what was supposed to be a “mild” calf strain, and apparently has turned out to be more than that. As the series progresses the W’s will have to balance a sense of urgency against making sure he is fully ready to return.
In the meantime credit where credit is due: The Toronto fans were Oracle-quality pumped, which surely helped lift their team’s performance a bit. That’s what home-court advantage is all about. And Raptors forward Pascal Siakam had a monster game, scoring 32 points on 14 of 17 from the field. Can he do that again? We shall see, we shall see.