After disparaging the presence of Canadians (disguised as Raptor fans) in Mission bars during Game 5, I was dissed for snarky nationalism and tech chauvinism (because the Dubs are “tech’s team” I suppose).
A neighbor reminded me that with Trump still on the loose, I should keep my mouth shut and my options open.
What do the basketball gods have in store for us tonight? Someone stole my morning Chronicle, so no help there.
(someone steals a Chronicle?!!)
The Raptors have a bigger, faster, healthier team. They also have Kawhi Leonard.
But with the wounded KD and the last game at Oracle, the Dubs have the more dramatic story lines (and potential feel-good Hollywood endings).
Had this been a normal NBA Finals, it would have been over by now. But these Finals have veered off script in unexpected ways.
As game time approaches, the fog rolls back over the Mission.
How cool is that?
First Quarter: Big Rec Tap Room
A friend asks my prediction.
“I don’t know who will win, but I predict the Dubs come out on fire in the first quarter and then have to hang on for dear life.”
The Raptors come out on fire and after Kyle Lowry knocks down three three-point shots in less than three minutes, the Dubs are already hanging on for dear life.
“Apparently the Torontos don’t feel bad about KD,” says one of the guys hanging out against the wall. “And they don’t feel sad about Oracle,” says his friend.
This was not the start Dubs fans had been hoping for, but midway through the quarter, the Dubs made some shots, got some stops, and kept the Raptors from blowing the roof off Oracle.
Two guys walk into the bar with earbuds. They wear Dubs gear and speak a foreign language. Russian?
The Dubs close the quarter down one. Not bad, considering the Raptors made seven three-point shots, one fewer than they made in the entire Game 5.
Second Quarter: The Napper Tandy
If the crowd at The Big Rec Tap Room has a heavy tech-bro feel to it, the Napper Tandy could not be more different. Lots of old Mission types hanging out at the bar, the door, the windows, etc. Definitely more women.
I look at the court and I hear Frank Sinatra singing “Strangers in the Night.” Injuries have forced the Dubs into some weird combinations, none more bizarre than the group currently playing. They do surprisingly well, hanging with the Raptors until Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet make back-to-back threes.
Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala come back and, in a swish, the Dubs retake the lead.
On one end of the court, the Raptors make almost every three they take. On the other, they are hounding and harassing Klay Thompson and Steph Curry on the outside, forcing all the action inside.
“Get a stop!” yells a woman at one of the screens.
“Or get lucky” says a man to himself, watching the game through a window.
Or get outstanding play from Thompson and Iguodala. Each nails a three to put the Dubs ahead with under two minutes. But the Raptors come back and Kyle Lowry ends the half with layup for a 60-57 Raptor lead.
Third Quarter: The 500 Club
Should you go back to the 500 Club for the third quarter? Remember the last time? The Dubs got pasted. But third quarters at The 500 Club have been so good for so long, you’ve got to give it one more try.
Thompson is hot. Before the midway point of the quarter, he’s got 25 points. When Curry can get free of the double teams he also connects. And Iguodala! Playing like the Iggy of five years ago.
It’s “Game 6 Klay” who makes a tough three before Iguodala lofts another floater to give the Dubs a two-point lead at the five-minute mark.
The Raptors come back, but Thompson keeps Dubs on top.
Under three minutes. Curry steals the ball from Lowry. He whips the ball to Thompson running ahead of the pack. Thompson goes up for a dunk and gets whacked from behind by Danny Green.
Thompson goes down. He grabs his leg.
A wail goes up from the bars and the homes of the Mission. A chant: “Klay!” “Klay!”
The cameras follow him as he’s helped to the locker room. Then suddenly he turns around and runs back to the court.
Thompson makes two free throws before the team drags him off the court. Cameras catch him jogging to the locker room, almost skipping. He’ll be fine.
But meanwhile, who will score for the Dubs?
Who else? Iguodala.
Steph tries to do too much, turns the ball over twice, and the Dubs end the quarter up 88-86.
Fourth Quarter: The Pork Store
The vibe at the Pork Store could not be better. The crowd is wildly diverse and bigger than it has been all series. It’s either because the game is so close or the $10 burger-and-beer special is too good to pass up.
As he did in Game 5, when all else fails, DeMarcus Cousins keeps the Dubs afloat.
“Defense!” shouts the white-haired woman behind me.
Kevon Looney gets the memo. He steals the ball from Lowry and throws it ahead to Shaun Livingston for a dunk. It’s Livingston’s second field goal in two minutes and gives the Dubs a three-point lead with almost six minutes remaining.
Thompson walks out of the locker room on crutches.
Iguodala hits yet another three-point shot under five minutes. He not only scores, but he also keeps Leonard from taking over the game.
That’s the thing about the Raptors. They’ve got depth. VanVleet and Marc Gasol put the Raptors back on top.
Three minutes left. The Dubs get a stop, but Ibaka gets the offensive rebound and puts it in for a five-point Raptor lead.
Under two minutes, Dubs down by 6. With Raptors daring anyone but Curry to shoot, Green takes the dare. No! He makes a three! Yes!
Cousins scores, but so does Siakam, keeping the Raptor lead at three.
Eighteen seconds left. Curry sinks two free throws to bring the Dubs within one point.
The Dubs press the Raptors and Danny Green throws the ball away.
The Dubs have the ball. Nine seconds on the game clock. Nine seconds of basketball remaining to be played at Oracle.
Iguodala throws a high pass to Green who leaps and tips it to Curry. With three Raptors surrounding him, Curry’s got time for a quick one.
For the game, for KD, for Oracle.
What more could any Dubs fan wish for?
The shot to go down.