That wasn’t just a loss last night in Oakland. It was the Overtime
from Hell at Oracle.
And you know it in your bones.
In a city that’s not Cleveland, for a fan base that’s not us, one might appraise the Cavaliers’ 108-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and move on, seeking some comforting perspective.
It’s still only Game 1, after all. The best anyone could have hoped or was to get a split in those first two away games. Which is still possible!
Hey, the last time things looked this grim was less than a month ago, when Derrick Rose hit an accidental bank-shot three-pointer buzzer-beater and the Bulls went up 2-1 on the Cavs and the season looked downright over. But was it? No! Everything worked out great! Not only wasn’t it over, the Cavs never lost again to the Bulls, winning three straight and breaking their spirit, or to the Atlanta Hawks in the next round either, winning four straight and breaking their spirit, too.
For two different and increasingly thrilling moments last night, that winning streak couldn’t have come any closer than it did to stretching to a full month. Couldn’t have more exhilaratingly teed Cleveland up for its first championship in 51 years.
With the score tied at 98, seconds left in the game, LeBron James drives to the hoop, shoots a contested jumper that seems utterly fits the improbable miracle of his Coming Home season.
Somehow, the ball finds its way into the corner, where a wide-open Iman Shumpert heaves a three that everybody watching is absolutely sure is good.
Somehow, it bounces out.
Somehow, before you can catch your breath, in an overtime that feels like it never should have been played, the Warriors are blowing Cleveland out and Kyrie Irving is suffering a season-ending injury and the Cavs score zero, zip, nothing until LeBron glides in at the end of the game for an uncontested layup — one as pointless as, somehow, this whole series suddenly feels. // Mark Winegardner