Pre-Game: Negative Capability
“Negative capability” was a phrase coined by the English poet John Keats, referring to a person “capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason –”
Was he talking about us? When has another fan base base ever been in so many uncertainties?
The Dubs are uncertain at center. And it’s uncertain if anyone other than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can score more than one or two baskets a night.
Other questions abound:
Are Raptor shooters as really as good as they were in Game 3? How will the Dubs respond? Will the return of Thompson juice the offense as well as jolt the defense? Can Curry continue to play almost every minute and still score a truckload of points while being chased up and down the court by the entire Toronto organization? For the record, his personal trainer says he can.
And then there is Kevin Durant. He’s out for Game 4, which, of course, has increased the uncertainties already swirling around him. Will he play in Game 5? Will he play at all in the finals? After being off for more than a month, what can we expect: Savior or Stumble Bum? And how will added time off affect his future travel plans?
I spend the day irritably “reaching after fact & reason.” And what a brilliant day. The sun could not be brighter, nor the skies clearer.
Except for that patch of thick fog enveloping a steel and concrete bunker off 580. The one they call “Oracle.”
First Quarter: Doc’s Clock/Barrel Proof
With all the injuries, I thought it would be wise to begin tonight’s game at Dr. Teeth or Doc’s Clock.
There was a decent crowd forming at Dr. Teeth, but the game was background music, not a focus of attention.
Even fewer are at Doc’s Clock, and less than half of them are watching the game. Fortunately, I’m standing next to three guys who are into the game — and as uncertain as I am.
Led by Draymond Green, the Dubs are off to the races. Poor DeMarcus Cousins. He tries to keep up the pace, but it’s too much for him. Three turnovers in the first two minutes.
“I’m exhausted,” says one of the guys after five minutes.
“They’ll all be on stretchers by the fourth quarter,” says another one.
It’s frenetic. It’s helter skelter. The Dubs’ defense has shown up tonight, and the Raptors can’t buy a basket. Even wide open. Nothing but bricks.
The three guys leave Doc’s Clock, leaving me the only one watching the game. So I leave.
Barrel Proof is packed and rowdy. “This is not the normal Friday night crowd,” a woman tells me. Or maybe she’s flirting with that guy.
Kevon Looney returns from the training room. Who knows what kind of drugs they’ve pumped into him, but he looks good. And, talk about back from the brink, Thompson is moving well on both defense and offense.
For all their histrionics, the Dubs make little headway. After eight minutes, they’ve only scored 17 points. Which is bad, but they only score six more the rest of the way, which is way worse.
But not as bad as the Raptors. The Dubs lead 23-17.
Second Quarter: Brew Coop
Both teams come out slow and sloppy on offense, tenacious on defense. Blocks and missed shots by the bushel.
But little by little, following Serge Ibaka, the Raptors close in on their prey.
The crowd at Brew Coop is out the door. It is young, much more gender-balanced than other bars, and everyone is decked out in Dubs gear.
And they go wild when Thompson hits a long three. Then he follows up with a mid-range jumper and the Dubs are back up eight.
“Klay,” shouts a guy at one of the seven screens. “Where were you in Game 3?”
“Klay,” shouts the woman standing next to him. “I love you, Klay.”
After a Raptors’ time out, the Dubs score just four more points in the closing four minutes. They limp into halftime, leading 46-42.
Third Quarter: The 500 Club/Elixir Saloon
The 500 Club is beyond packed. And not with day trippers, but serious fans. But really, how serious can they be? It’s so crowded in here, I can barely see the screen. But the mood is excellent. Primed for another Dubs third-quarter explosion.
Only this time, it’s an implosion.
Thompson keeps making shots, but he’s the only one. Steph comes up short every time, an indication his legs are giving out. He looks wasted. Another easy transition basket from Siakam. The whole Dubs team looks wasted.
Gone is the running and gunning of the first quarter. The defense was sharp to begin the quarter, but has now dulled. Kawhi Leonard and Ibaka take advantage.
I feel claustrophobic, so head to the Elixir.
Tied with four minutes left, Ibaka blocks a McKinnie shot, then sinks three-pointer and the flood gates open. By the end of the quarter, the Raptors lead by 12.
“We’re toast,” says the man in the Tim Hardaway jersey.
Fourth Quarter: Delirium
He’s right. Of course, it’s far from garbage time. The Dubs have come back from much worse deficits in much less time. Right?
Right. But not with half their team on crutches. And not against a team as good as the Raptors.
Most of the crowd seems to have moved on from the game. A three from Klay barely draws more cheers than yawns.
The Raptors don’t pour it on, but they keep up the pressure. The Dubs have one more shot left.
“These are going to be the most stressful three minutes ever,” says the guy in the hood after Curry buries a long three-pointer to bring the Dubs back within eight.
In less than a minute, Siakam scores four points, and the stress is gone.
Some uncertainties are less uncertain than others.
KD may or may not come back for Game 5 on Monday night. But it’s looking less and less likely he will make a difference. The Raptors took both games from the Dubs at Oracle, looking like the better team in every phase of the game.
The Dubs look broken, out of sync and ready for a nap.
Can they make it back to Oracle for one last stand?
Unlikely. But who knows?
Game 5 at 6 p.m. on Monday night.