Friday, June 17, 2016

Warriors - Cavaliers Game Six: The Worst Long Series Ever

Get Inspired, NBA TV
I am, without reservation or condition, one of the biggest NBA marks on the planet. I love the regular season. I've played a fantasy league for longer than many of you have been alive. I defend the schedule, stay up late to see games all spring long. The talent here is unbelievable; the best players from six continents work in this league. The modern rules make for a more entertaining game to watch. You can view it with a clear conscience, unlike football, because the Commish isn't an utter asshat and the players aren't going to die in their 40s.

And after six games of a Finals that has been seemingly nothing but blowouts and referee malfeasance... man alive. I'm not going to say I feel stupid for caring so much about this league, but it's pretty damned close. That heroin hoop seems like a very long time ago.

There hasn't been a close game in these Finals. There hasn't been a well-officiated game in these Finals. The entire tone and tenor of the series has been changed by a wildly questionable suspension in Game 5. Tonight's game was marred by constant and questionable foul trouble for the reigning Most Valuable Player, who was given his sixth and final foul with four minutes left. Just to ensure that nothing stopped Game Seven from happening, and that the end of Game Six was as drama-free as the other games.

And I *loathe* conspiracy theories, honestly, I do. It makes you sound like the worst kind of sports talk radio fan. But there really isn't that big of a drop from rolling to rocked, especially when the other team has the best basketball player on the planet when he's got his jump shot working. And even more so when the Warriors suddenly lose their best defensive big man in Andrew Bogut, and have to run with a hobbled Andre Iguodala, who played tonight with a back problem that made him look like a guy who usually plays at the YMCA.

I can't say that I'd love this series if the refs were not treating it like third-rate wrestling; basketball games where one team pretty much does a wire to wire job are just depressing. Having to spend this much time with Jeff van Gundy and Mark Jackson is also grounds for a class-action lawsuit, honestly. And the Cavs won the last two games by enough points, with remarkable work by LeBron James especially, that we were probably always going to Game Seven.

But that's not the feeling you got from this. The feeling you got from this is that the series is on the take, that the results of the last two games were pre-scripted, and that you are a full-time mook for watching, let alone caring. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and that the rules of hoop -- best team wins in a best of seven -- might not apply any more. Especially with the cast of characters seemingly in flux.

And yes, Cleveland was always going to win this game. The Warriors got absolutely nothing out of Harrison Barnes. Iguodala has to either get healthy or get off the floor. Draymond Green seemed to play this entire game with an eye to not be suspended for Game 7, with the possible exception of the last minute of play, when he seemed to want to get suspended. As good as Golden State is, they have to be better mentally, or they will end the best season in NBA history with the worst collapse.

Game Seven is Sunday night in Oakland. I have no idea what is going to happen, because I have no idea who is going to be healthy, or who will show up, or who the NBA wants to win, because that last factor seems to be the most important.

I know I'm going to watch, because it's the last meaningful hoop that I'm going to get for 4.5 months. With luck, we'll finally get a game that's worthy of the title. And officiating that's finally not an active detriment to your viewing...

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