Pre-Game: Monk’s Kettle (Bar)
I’m at Monk’s Kettle early to grab a seat at the bar. By game time, no hope. The Kettle is not a real sports bar, but it’s got a TV, the best food on the block and wide variety of beers. Do they carry Elvis Juice from Brewdog?
Rolla from Italy came for coffee this morning. She’s doing a piece for Conde Nast Italia on the games as a reflection of the cultural/political divide between the Golden State and the Rust Belt.
Her take on Game Two (rough translation):
Expect the Cavs to take the floor pumped up on more than Elvis Juice. Going back to Cleveland is grim enough. Going back down 0-2 on a plane with LeBron James and all those pain meds? Uh, no thank you.
Then we hear the big news. Steve Kerr is coming back to coach tonight.
First Quarter: Monk’s Kettle
No one expects a blow out like Game One. I expect the game to be slow. Ha ha. The pace is even faster than the first. Someone must have spiked the Cavs’ water. Cleveland is running. Their game plan is immediately apparent. They decided they can’t stop the Dubs. So they will try to run with the Dubs.
Run and dunk like the Dubs did in Game One. And the Dubs do in Game Two. It’s a track meet, an All-Star game. A Night of a Thousand and One Dunks.
And how does Steph Curry welcome back Steve Kerr, a man living through most days with excruciating pain, the coach who made him a superstar? Six turnovers with thoughtless, careless, casual passes.
Nick and I are the only two totally involved in the game. I would say the rest are more involved with their friends and their food with an occasional whoop when KD dunks. More of a crunch-time crowd.
Can the Cavs keep running?
Clevelandd as a city has been running on empty for the past five or six decades. But after they beat the Dubs last year, the city became “Believeland.” Don’t believe it. Cleveland remains faithful to its corrupt politicians, out-of-control cops, racism, sleezy loan sharks and world class medical center for those who can afford it. It’s true you won’t believe the housing costs.
The Dubs throw down an outstanding 40 points. Still, at the end of the first quarter, the runnin’ Cavs are only down 5.
Second Quarter: The 500 Club
If the techie scene is not your scene, you can do worse than this classic dark, dingy dive bar.
It’s the second quarter now and things are getting chippy. Steph is still throwing the ball away and the defense is uncharacteristically porous, giving away far too much. The offense has gone rancid.
A guy is selling Giants t-shirts with a Godfather logo. “The Giants could use a Godfather this year,” I say.
But let’s get back to basketball.
But before we do, the t-shirt seller asks if I’m a cop. It must be darker and dingier in here than I think.
On the positive side Klay Thompson is making shots after a playoff long slump. Also good to see Draymond Green sinking a couple threes. On the negative side, Cleveland’s strategy to get Green in foul trouble is working.
The Dubs are running but it seems the Cavs are forcing the pace. And the turnover battle has turned decisively in the Cav’s favor.
It’s been a speedy half. I feel like I’ve been mainlining caffeine for two or three weeks straight. Before the second half, I need to chill.
Halftime: Dolores Park
Mission homeboy Carlos Santana opened the game with a stoner’s version of the Star Spangled Banner. Well received by the crowd in Oracle and would have fit well here this evening. A laid back sun and a cool breeze blowing through the semi-populated park. Close your eyes and it could be the Summer of Love.
Third Quarter: Phoenix Irish Bar
Kevin Love opens the second half with a layup for the Cavs and two minutes later he scores their next three points. After another two minute drought, Love scores again.
Coach Kerr got on Curry’s case at halftime reportedly telling his point guard he didn’t look like he was having a good time. Come the third quarter, Steph begins to look like he’s enjoying himself. But with about 5 minutes to go, the Cavs get going and cut the lead to 4.
A guy behind me: “Bombs in London. We’re Irish.”
What? I turn. An old guy in blue and yellow.
Again. Not loud, not menacing. “Bombs in England. We’re Irish.”
In the noisy crowded bar, not many hear him. Those that do freeze.
One the barristas is on it. “Shut up Mikey” she says, “Or go home.” He walks out.
Over the next 4 minutes and 35 seconds, the Dubs outscore the Cavs 13-2. With Green in foul trouble earlier in the quarter, Kerr replaced him with KD who was magnificent. Now Green returns. Not only have the Dubs tightened their defense, it’s clear LeBron can’t keep up the pace. Steph Curry scores on him in showy highlight fashion and the rout is on.
Fourth Quarter: Delirium
Delirium is buzzing over the political/cultural differences between Cleveland and the Bay Area reflected in the Finals.
Not really, but there is at least one difference worth noting before the fourth quarter begins.
While Big Tech lined up behind Mrs. Clinton, as did the players and coaches on both teams, Cavs owner, Quicken Loan Shark Dan Gilbert, hosted a fundraiser for Trump. A secret fundraiser. We assume LeBron (who was big time for Hilary) and Kyrie were kept off the guest list.
The two team go back and forth for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. After a short rest, Steph Curry enters the game with 8 minutes to go and the Dubs still up 14. Two minutes later they are up 20 and, with a brilliant play in which KD blocks a Kevin Love shot, gets the rebound, dribbles down and scores falling down, the game is over.
Although another blow out by the score, the Cavs made the game interesting and the Dubs made it fun to watch.
After the game, a reporter asks KD to look back and assess what the Dubs have done to this point in the playoffs.
“I’m not looking back,” says KD.
Sure glad I’m not on that plane tonight flying back to Cleveland with LeBron and the Cavs.