The final act of the NBA Finals has arrived. The Misson Bay Dubs (aka Golden State Warriors) have won three games; the Boston Celtics have won two, and there are two games left to play. By the end of this week, a new champion will be crowned.
Game 6 will be played in Boston on Thursday night. The good news is that Chase Center has opened its doors to voyeurs. That is, for $25 you can watch the game on a jumbo screen surrounded by 18,000 souls, most of them decked out in Dubs gear and screaming, sighing, cheering the Dubs and cursing the referees.
Will the curses affect the refs? Doubtful. Curses from a distance of 3,000 miles tend to wane in efficacy. So do cheers. It is unlikely Dub management will stream audio or video from Chase to the players.
But the NBA, like most civic athletic competitions, sports a metaphysical dimension. Superstitions abound, and no advantage, astrological, diabolical or otherwise, will be ignored when a championship title is on the line.
You don’t have to be a Dubs fan, or know a thing about basketball, to appreciate and wonder at this curious, but undeniably joyous (if we win) 21st-century ritual of human solidarity and camaraderie.
The seats are comfortable and the screen is huge. You may be excused from witnessing TV commercials, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that someone is always trying to sell you something.
Those concerned about covid transmission (unlike our Mayor and Director of the Department of “Public Health”), may wear a high-quality mask without fear of suffering the ignominy of shame or facing a sea of ignorant stares.
Or you might want to join the crowd outside watching on another jumbo screen.
The easiest way to get to Chase is to catch the 78X from the 16th Street BART station. It’s free and flies nonstop down 16th (why can’t Muni be like that all the time?).
The Finals so far
Monday night’s game was pivotal. With two games left to play, the Dubs need to win one to win the championship. If they lose Game 6 in Boston, they return to Mission Bay for Game 7.
Until last night, the main storyline of the series had been about the stinginess of the Celtic defense and the brilliance of Stephen Curry’s offense.
As the patron saint of short people, Curry has been the star of the show, especially in the “must win” Game 4 in Boston. He swished shots with angelic grace.
But basketball is a team game, and even angels have off nights.
Game 5 was important, not only because the win put the Dubs up 3-2 in the series, but because it upended the script.
For the first four games, while Steph got loose, the Celtics shut off his teammates. Last night the Celtics shut down Steph, but his teammates, especially Andrew Wiggins, turned on.
Wiggins has been known for his potential throughout most of his eight-year career. Coming into the Finals, he was considered an “X factor.” In Game 5, potential became reality. He soared from start to finish, scoring 26 points and hauling down 13 rebounds while hounding Celtic superstar Jayson Tatum.
After the game, he smiled and the crowd went crazy.
Wiggins was joined in the collective heroics by Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole (who hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter that was a springboard to the climactic fourth), the incomparable defensive pest Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney, as always.
Draymond Green, who has had a wretched series, showed up big time, on both offense and defense. This was not good news for Draymond haters, and will give them plenty to boo about on Thursday night.
Curry was, my grandfather would say, not so extra.
The Dubs’ defense rarely gets much press, but they have stuffed and stymied the Celtic offense time and again. Over the past two months, Boston’s offense has been inconsistent and, at times, non-existent. The Dubs may be relatively small, but they’ve got quick hands and can pounce on miscues. Never have they been so in sync as they were in Game 5.
It’s been an exciting series, and whereas I would like to say the Dubs are on the brink of another championship, I don’t want to jinx it, so let’s just say: