BEAT LA BEAT LA has basically been in my blood since childbirth as a three-generation Portland Trailblazer fan. Safe to say I was pretty excited to be in an anti-Laker building in a real deal playoff series to soak up all of the Laker hatred. It was glorious I have to say. But it took some time to get there. A little longer than I thought.
I ended up getting to the Suns game late because I stayed about 45 minutes away in Scottsdale (with the rest of the Barstool Classic crew) and silly me, I thought I might be able to procure an uber in under an hour.
I was wrong.
Fortunately, I did arrive well before tip off and the Suns arena was already lit. The media area is incredible since they refurbed the entire stadium.
I used to live in Scottsdale (when I was working for Wells Fargo as a financial advisor back in 2008) so I’ve been to many NBA games when I was just a young pup, and this was the best atmosphere of any Suns game I’ve attended. It wasn’t even close. Normally games are pretty “meh” atmosphere-wise. This was great. From the moment I stepped off the elevator onto the press level, the place was BUZZING.
This game was all about two things … fouls and injuries.
I’ve seen a lot of playoff basketball; I covered four NBA playoffs including finals for USA Today after all. But I don’t know if I’ve seen the energy leave a stadium faster than I did when Chris Paul, who some argue is this year’s MVP, went down in the second quarter of Game One against the Lakers.
Damn. We’re talking about the 2nd best team in the NBA playing a first round match up against the defending champions with Lebron and AD both playing and their veteran star going down. It looked BAD. But then CP3 emerged and the crowd went wild.
The issue is that Chris Paul didn’t look amazing the rest of the game, but his toughness settled down a young team that can get rattled, and once CP3 came back, Booker took it on home.
The second injury was Anthony Davis. He tweaked his back early (some thought it was his ankle but he set the record straight in the post-game presser) and was not himself the rest of the game. He shot 5-17 and had zero offensive rebounds. Rough outing, because this team cannot win without both him and Bron healthy.
The second issue is fouls.
I said in the game preview this morning that Deandre Ayton would be the key to the game, and he absolutely was.
Deandre Ayton absolutely ripped out Anthony Davis’ soul and sloppily ate it right in front of the world to see. AD looked demoralized, dejected and you really hate to see Laker fans turn on their big man the day he chose to respond to the year long chatter about him being “soft”.
“I don’t give a (expletive) – it’s as simple as that,” Davis said. “If there are people who say that, most of them probably never were in the game. I really don’t care.”
Ayton was fucking dominant (10-11 for 22 points and 16 rebounds, including EIGHT offensive boards) And Anthony Davis was… not, ESPECIALLY compared to the 42 points he put up to beat the Suns without Bron a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, though the Zebras wanted to snatch this win away. But Twitter knew it was bullshit. ADisney and LeFlop were both trending all day especially after Lebron got “hurt” again at a crucial part of the game trying DESPERATELY to shift the momentum in the Lakers favor just like he did before the “I saw three rims” clutch shot against the Warriors.
No one, and I mean NO ONE gets more ticky tack fouls going his way than Lebron. Of course he is great and of course he’s one of the best players on the planet but holy shit do I fully understand why he is so widely hated. He bitches constantly whenever he doesn’t get a call, which is almost never, and when he does get one and misses a free throw, he turns it into a moment (he had a lane violation BEFORE any of that shit went down) to get someone ejected, and sneakily cause complete chaos while he just lays on the ground motionless like he got shot by a sniper. Bron doing Bron things. This league doing this league things.
I can just feel that the NBA is going to do everything in their power to make the Lakers win this series. Prediction: In Game Two (which I’ll also be at after being at the Barstool Classic all day), Ayton will get in early foul trouble, Booker is going to take reckless hits and somehow Lebron will accidentally almost kill CP3… OH WAIT that already all happened. I bet that Game 2 gets even more chaotic, and the calls get even more egregious. I love Bron but this is fucking ridiculous.
I couldn’t be more stoked for Tuesday night’s game, because we get to see how a defending champ takes a shot to the mouth and responds. Because the Lakers got their dicks stomped into the point even the stripes couldn’t save them.
How will they respond?
Come back on Tuesday to find out. If the Lakers win? LONG series on our hands. If the Suns win? Could be over FAST.