THE GAME: Warriors vs Cavs
There has never been a restaurant where I enjoy watching sports more than I do at Matt Denny's in Arcadia. I hang out at lots of bars that serve food, but if we're talking strictly about restaurants, Matt Denny's is my favorite spot to grab some food and watch a game. I've been going there since they opened back in 1999.
Tonight I stopped in with a friend to get some dinner and watch another rematch of last spring's NBA Finals.
Speaking of which, when was the last time two NBA teams seemed 100% destined to meet in the Finals, as the Cavs and Warriors do?
I wasn't convinced Golden State would be there last season, nor Cleveland the year before.
The Spurs and Pistons seemed like a safe bet in 2005, as did the Jazz and Bulls in 1998, but neither of those were guaranteed matchups.
I have to go back 24 years, to the Suns and Bulls in 1993, to find an NBA Finals that I was so sure was going to happen. (And even that year, Phoenix needed 7 games to beat Seattle in the Western Conference Finals, one of the great series of all time, culminating in a Game 7 where Charles Barkley scored 44 points and grabbed 24 rebounds, and Phoenix somehow shot a mind-boggling 64 free throws.)
Barring catastrophic injury, is there any chance in hell the Warriors and Cavs don't meet again in the Finals this June?
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- We started with the chicken tenders. This is one of those examples of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts: the chicken is overly breaded and frequently overcooked, and they cost 11 bucks, which seems exorbitant for three chicken strips... but I still often order and enjoy them.
- My friend always gets the buffalo chicken wrap, full of cut up pieces of those chicken tenders - she believes there is no such thing as too much fried chicken, which is why we are friends - tomatoes, buffalo sauce, blue cheese and lettuce, all in a sun-dried tomato tortilla.
- She also had a couple of Tito's & sodas, her drink of choice. "Why are you only having iced tea?" she asked me. "I'm doing the whole Dry January thing," I explained. "That's lame," she said. I didn't argue because, well, she's right.
- I ordered the only thing I ever get at Matt Denny's: the smoked turkey sandwich. This is one of my 5 favorite sandwiches in a 10-mile radius, smoked in-house and served on a soft bun with red onion and pickles on the side. Also included is their warm house-made barbecue sauce, one of the best I have ever had, which I slather generously on the sandwich. I have eaten this sandwich more than 100 times and I have never been disappointed.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- The Warriors are 8-point favorites, which seems low. They HAVE to make a statement this game. They blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals last spring, the first time a team has ever done that. They lost Game 7 at home, which no team had done in the Finals since 1978. On Christmas Day, they blew a 14-point 4th quarter lead to lose to the Cavs. If they don't assert themselves tonight, at home, they might as well announce to the Cavs "We can't beat you."
- Even in the 40th game, it still seems weird to see Durant in a Warriors jersey.
- The longest it ever took me to get used to seeing an athlete in a new uniform was when Patrick Ewing joined the Sonics. (Although that's somewhat misleading, as I never actually got used to it.) The shortest was when ARod joined the Yankees; from the moment he entered MLB it seemed like he was destined to become a Yankee.
- The cameras have shown multiple glimpses of a guy in the crowd in a Kobe Bryant jersey and he's cheering ecstatically for the Warriors. It's not that incongruous - both Kobe and the Warriors spent the last several seasons ensuring that the Lakers lost games.
- LeBron's flop was as pathetic as any I have ever seen in the NBA.
- When I wrote about the matchup on Christmas Day, I mentioned how many All-Stars were playing. Since then, Cleveland has added Kyle Korver. (For those of you who aren't basketball fans, Kyle Korver is one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history.)
- Jesus, Golden State put up 78 points in the first half. The Lakers scored 97 points in the entire game yesterday. (For those of you who aren't basketball fans, that means the Warriors are a hell of a lot better than the Lakers.)
- 72 seconds into the second half and the Warriors are up by 35. I expected them to make a statement... but not like this.
- The Cavs closed the third quarter on a 15-1 run. That would have been exciting if it had cut the lead to 4. Or even 14. But all it did was cut the lead to 24.
- Warriors get it back to 35, and that's where the game ends. Steph, KD and Klay all had 20+ points, but the line of the night belongs to Draymond: 11 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 blocks. Wow.