Pre-Game: 16th Street.
What else would you call it when the sun comes at you brighter than ten thousand klieg lights? When instead of cash, you exchange fist bumps and “Go Dubs” with your favorite panhandler? When the neighbors start trucking in provisions at 9 in the morning for their party tonight.
“A little early to celebrate,” I say.
“It’s all day,” she says.
“Aren’t you afraid you might jinx them?” I ask.
“Who?” She looks at me like I come from Mars. Worse. I come from Cleveland.
Thought Experiment. Is participation, at the fan level, purely subjective? Can our actions, what we say, even what we think, affect the outcome of a mass sports entertainment spectacle occurring on the other side of the Bay? If we’re all connected, interwoven, why not? If the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Beijing can cause a hurricane in New York, then who knows?
For example, T, who back in the day bought weed on the ramps inside Oracle, subscribes to a ritual meal:
Spanish tortilla with a tomato frisée salad dressed in olive oil and pomegranate balsamic, washed down with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
It worked until Game 4.
“Maybe I should have had seconds,” he texted during the first quarter onslaught.
The talk on the blogs continues to rage at the NBA for one of the worst officiating performances in memory.
“They took away our brooms.”
“Don’t be fooled. Sure the refs made lousy calls against the Cavs, but not all lousy calls are equal. Timing is everything, whether you’re playing a game or fixing it. Half of all fouls called against the Dubs were in the first quarter which put them on their heels the rest of the game.”
Where to go? I began Game 4 at Clooney’s Pub which I found surprisingly laid back. The Dovre Club was better, but not much. It felt like the Dubs looked – half asleep.
Which played right into the Cavs’ hands. Can’t make that mistake again.
First Quarter: Giordano’s
OK, it’s not like last night when the bar overflowed with Penguin fans, but it’s crowded, active, awake – and loud. My heart is pounding. I hope that helps the Dubs; probably not going to help me.
Since the end of Game 4, the consensus is “the Dubs will take care of business in Game 5.” Well, business is booming! No doubt you saw the reports of a pair of court side tickets bought for $90,000. Who’s coming? The Saudi King and his Great Orb?
The First Quarter does not start out well for the Dubs. Take that back. It started well, with Draymond Green hitting a 3, which is always good news. The bad news? Turnovers.
Like in egregious Steph Curry turnovers. And he’s rushing his shots. Yeah, we get it Steph. You got a lot to prove and tonight is the night to make that happen. But it’s not going to happen if you don’t calm down.
He does. And then there’s KD, of course, KD, gliding down the lane, or pulling up behind the line, one of the most graceful athletes in professional sports. And more impressive given the beating he takes every night.
But the Dubs defense. I thought the Dubs were going to come out playing lights-out defense. Instead, their light is off. After scraping and fumbling, they manage to take a one point lead with 37 seconds left. But two long shots, and one Steph Curry turnover, give the Cavs 37 points and a 4 point lead.
Second Quarter: San Pancho
Every where you look, blue and yellow; yellow and blue. If I didn’t know the Dubs had played an ambiguous quarter, from the energy in San Pancho, I would have assumed they were winning by a ton.
The Dubs begin the quarter with a turnover – a bad pass from KD. The Cavs score the first 6 while the Dubs don’t score until 2 minutes have gone by.
Then it changes.
The Dubs start getting stops. The Dubs start getting steals. The Dubs start playing Insane Defense.
Steph starts hitting shots. KD keeps hitting shots.
Over the next 7 minutes, led by backup center David West, the Dubs outscore the Cavs 28-4. And the fans packed together in San Pancho ROAR. Waves of “WARRIORS” bounce around the concrete walls.
This should be the game. But it’s not.
I used to live above San Pancho when it was another restaurant. One night, the jilted lover of the restaurant’s owner decided he would get even by blowing up the restaurant. This is the first time I’ve been back since that night. Talk about superstition.
In the final 40 seconds of the half, J.R. Smith hits two 3s and LeBron makes a layup.
What a letdown. Cleveland is still alive.
Halftime: The Neighbors’ Party
Turns out to be a party after a day of work. For relief??? My stomach’s still in a knot and I only started working an hour ago.
Thank god, the the food is good. But will the Dubs win if I indulge?
What’s T. eating?
“The same. I’ve made simple adjustments: a pinch more salt, a hint of rosemary, but despite Game 4, I’m not deviating from what’s gotten us through the playoffs.”
And yes, he will have seconds tonight.
Third Quarter: The Five Hundred Club
We’re all raucous when the Third Quarter starts off with a Klay Thompson 3. The Third Quarter is the Dubs’ Quarter, right? Now the Dubs will put the Cavs away.
Nope. After 6 minutes, the Cavs have cut the Dubs lead to 5.
It’s the missed shots, the fouls, the fights, the turnovers, the f . . . ing anxiety! And the defense. What happened to that mad mental Second Quarter defense?
The bright spot? Rookie Patrick McCaw. He’s come in and played excellent defense and scored a couple hoops down the stretch. Without him the Dubs would be in real trouble. As it is, they play the Cavs even for the rest of the quarter.
It’s anybody’s game.
Fourth Quarter: Delirium and Pork Store
“OK Dubs, time to take care of business,” shouts a woman at the television screen.
Behind the noise inside Delirium, the tension is thick. Outside a few fans pass around a plant of pure indica to relieve the stress.
It doesn’t work.
What does work is KD. He opens up the quarter with 3 points. Less than two minutes later he hits a 3 point shot to give the Dubs an 8 point lead.
And Steph Curry. After his sloppy First Quarter, Curry has excelled all over the court, especially on defense, but also rebounding. Repeatedly he’s slips through a thicket of Cavs’ arms and legs to the hoop for a score.
And Klay Thompson defending LeBron and Kyrie. And Andre Iguodala playing his heart out.
Now the Cavs’ defense begins to fall apart. They don’t set up fast enough after they miss a shot and they don’t talk to each other, so the Dubs find an open dunk time and again to push the lead to 10.
Five minutes left. An eternity. But the Dubs lead by 12 on another KD jump shot and a “Warriors” cheer begins rocking the Pork Store, led by a woman dancing on a table. The guy next to me is feeling it. His girlfriend pours beer on him (and me).
You can hear the cheers on 16th street, but nobody leaves the bars. Not yet.
Then the final buzzer.
Can I say it? Or will it jinx next year?