By Austin Kent
I’m not going to lie, my nerves are shot. Shot by the bullet that the Detroit Pistons dodged last night. Not just shot, but completely destroyed, and I can feel it in my stomach. My intestines have been scrunched into a ball, beaten with a spiked pitching wedge (yes, they do make spiked pitching wedges, in my nightmares at least), stretched back out, and thrown under a train for good measure. And I didn’t even see the first quarter.
When I close my eyes I see little Daniel Gibsons kicking my guts into a pile while LeBron James breathes fire on my wildly beating heart. Somewhere deep down I can feel the pounding of a miniature Anderson Varejao flopping into my rib cage, standing back up and flopping again. It makes me have to puke. It makes me wonder how much worse I’d be feeling had the Cavaliers actually won Game 2.
If I learned anything from watching Thursday night’s gong show, it’s that I’ve taken for granted just how brilliant the quality of NBA basketball really is. There were a combined 14 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone last night. Now it’s not that I think that number is freakishly high (the all time record for both teams in one game is 73!), it’s that the majority of them came in the midst of complete and utter chaos. It wasn’t just the occasional sloppy play, what we saw last night was entirely, unadulterated pandemonium.
If the topic of hanging onto the basketball doesn’t make it into both teams’ practices tomorrow the world will spontaneously combust. You heard it here first.
But if the game was as awful as the statistics would lead us to believe (and trust me, the numbers are convincing. At one point in the fourth quarter both teams had more turnovers than field goals made) then why was this game one of the most exciting ones I’ve seen since Stephen Jackson and company bounced the Mavs in round one?
Whether it came as the result of an uncalled foul or an errant pass, I hadn’t seen that many full grown men rolling around on the ground since that one time I accidentally watched UFC.
With 24 seconds left in the game, the epitome of the madness came in the form of Rasheed Wallace’s miraculous 18-foot bomb and eventual game winner. Had it not been for Sasha Pavlovic’s untimely hesitation and consequential traveling violation, the ‘Stons may have never even gotten the chance to ride Sheed’s miracle to the win. And had it not been for Coach Brown’s explosion following LeBron’s final shot attempt then Cavs may have found themselves just one miracle of their own shy of evening the series at one game a piece.
If you look back at any game, at any level, there will be things that could have been done differently. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say there was a lot more room for improvement in this game than on average.
The game was rough. It was confusing and unorganized. It was out of control and, at times, very uncharacteristic of NBA basketball. But best of all, it was human. And in a league where fans are constantly spoiled with the best athletes in the world performing at the top of their games, it was refreshing.
It reminded me of what makes basketball (and sports in general) so damn engaging. No matter what happens or who’s playing, everybody who sets foot on that court, on that given night, has the potential to come out on top.
I’m just glad it wasn’t the Cavaliers.