Okay, here's the deal: the regular season was not much fun. The playoffs were an atrocious, drama-free affair. The Eastern Conference was as bad as any conference I have ever seen; the #1 seed, Boston, would have been fortunate to be the #7 seed if they had played in the West. This Finals matchup has been inevitable since the moment Kevin Durant signed with Golden State last July.
But... now that the Finals are here... it could well be spectacular. For the first time in NBA history, the same two teams are meeting for the third Finals in a row.
In a league that has always been relatively top-heavy, that is an astounding fact. (The Lakers and Celtics have won 33 out of 71 total NBA championships, yet somehow they've never met three Finals in a row.)
The Warriors won in 2015. The Cavs want to show that if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving hadn't been injured, they would have won.
The Cavs won in 2016. The Warriors want to show that if Draymond Green hadn't been suspended for Game 5, they would have won.
The teams feature seven All-Stars and the winners of the last seven MVP awards. (I'm pretending that Derrick Rose's 2011 award didn't happen; cool?)
The teams have a combined postseason record of 24-1.
Not counting years when the Lakers have been in the Finals, I have never looked forward to a matchup this much.
These games deserve some damn fine gameday food.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- The meat is from my local butcher. USDA Prime. Nothing new there. I dusted them with salt and pepper and grilled them in my cast iron pan.
- Zankou Chicken's legendary garlic sauce was necessary. I will borrow Jonathan Gold's description: "Nothing in heaven or on Earth may be as severe as the Armenian garlic sauce served at Zankou Chicken, a fierce, blinding-white paste the texture of pureed horseradish that scents your car, sears your throat, and whose powerful aroma can stay in your head - and your car - for days."
- Brooklyn Delhi makes an achaar loaded with garlic and spices. I will borrow my own description: "It's fucking good."
- The combination of the garlic sauce, achaar, and pickles was delicious, but as intensely garlic-tasting as anything I have ever eaten. People may be recoiling at my breath for weeks to come.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- Isiah Thomas was on the pregame show I was watching on NBATV. It's interesting, I am an adult now and have no hatred towards most of the Lakers opponents I hated (or claimed to hate) as a kid: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Danny Ainge, Reggie Miller... but I still hate Isiah and all the Bad Boys. What an unlikable group.
- One of my best friends told me last night that she would kick me in the balls if I ever grow a neck beard. If I could grow one like LeBron's, it would totally be worth it.
- Commercial Note: They're reviving The Gong Show? Was there a demand for that? I literally have not heard a single person mention that show in my adult life. Can't we bring back Cheers or Quantum Leap? Hell, I'd settle for Charles in Charge.
- LeBron just did a pump fake when there was no one guarding him. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before. (To be fair, he was so wide open that I think he was shocked. I can just hear Mike Brown in the next huddle: "New strategy, guys - let's guard the best player in the world.")
- Durant and Curry both had 10 points in the first quarter; LeBron had 13. Those were, not coincidentally, the three favorites to win MVP of the Finals.
- Quiz: who is least favored to win MVP?
- Klay Thompson is 1-7 and he just fouled Kyrie Irving to allow a four-point play. Not a good offensive game for Klay so far. (He's doing well on defense, though.)
- Quiz answer: JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia. Both are 1000-1 to win MVP.
- I mentioned months ago that the word "unbelievable" is probably my least favorite word. The announcer just called this Finals "an unbelievable matchup." WTF is that supposed to mean? Unbelievable means "not able to be believed." This matchup is very easy to be believed, as I am watching it happen. Okay, sorry, rant over.
- Warriors by 8 at the half. They can play better - but Cleveland can play MUCH better, especially on defense.
- The Warriors had 11 dunks in the first half. No team has had that many dunks in one half of a Finals game in 20 years.
- Two minutes into the second half and the Warriors are now up by 15. That escalated quickly.
- LeBron is looking good but the Warriors have a 21-point lead after three quarters. I don't see them blowing that kind of lead at home after what happened to them last season in the Finals.
- At a commercial, I turned to the Angels game just in time to watch them hit into a 5-4-3 triple play that I predicted right before it happened. I couldn't begin to guess how many thousands of baseball games I have watched in my life, and that's only the second triple play I've ever seen live.
- Durant exits the game with two minutes left. He finishes with 38, 8, and 8.
- In the 8 Finals in which LeBron has appeared, his record in Game 1 is 1-7.
- The Warriors win by 22 - and other than Durant, they didn't really look all that impressive. It does not bode well for Cleveland.
- Still, all the Warriors really did was win at home. There's still plenty of series left.