Friday, June 17, 2016

A Game Seven Hot Take

So the NBA Finals has turned into some kind of weird, twisty-turney soap opera with six fairly non-competitive games resulting in a 3-3 tie between Golden State and Cleveland. Even if Game 7 results in yet another blowout, it will nonetheless provide an intriguing climax to an unexpectedly gripping series to punctuate the season.

One sure-fire prediction -- whoever loses the game will be forced to endure an incredible letdown. For the Warriors, it would mean failing to cap a record-breaking regular season with a title. The Cavs would similarly suffer greatly with a loss, coming one step shy of completing a never-before-accomplished comeback from 3-1 down in the finals to lose in the finals a second straight time.

I’ll add a few other predictions I’m less sure of, but in which I’m still reasonably confident. The Cavs probably won’t be as consistently brilliant as they were in Games 5 and 6. Neither will the Warriors be as consistently bad. Both will likely show some evidence of nerves, too, especially early in the game and perhaps again near the end (depending on the closeness of the score).

But here’s a less obvious prediction I’ll throw on top of the bonfire of “hot takes” that’s already starting to build, will grow higher by Sunday night, then disappear like so much ash in the wind once a result is determined. This one is probably contingent on the game being close at some point beyond the start -- i.e., in the second half, either early or late.

Here’s the “hot take”...

From the referees there will be a judgment call (or non-call) that will be agreed upon afterwards by most viewers to have affected the game’s outcome.

Every sport adjudicated by human beings involves some degree of error. Happens in poker, too, when rulings based on partial or even incorrect evidence sometimes occur, or even incorrect rulings based on clear and complete (and misunderstood or misinterpreted) evidence occasionally arise.

Over the course of an NBA basketball game, refs collectively make hundreds of decisions. They never make it through an entire game getting every decision correct, although generally do hit the mark on most of them. I’m not predicting (necessarily) that there will be an incorrect decision that will affect the outcome of Sunday night’s game; rather, I’m suggesting that some judgment call (which may or may not involve bad judgment and thus an incorrect decision) will be considered by most watching as having inordinately affected the outcome.

I guess my prediction itself involves a kind of judgment, although I’m saying most of those watching will come to the same conclusion that a key call (or non-call) more or less decided the game. It’s a prediction partly about the game and partly about how it will be discussed Monday morning, and it’s based both on the way the NBA games currently are officiated and tend to play out and the way games are scrutinized and discussed today.

Within a minute or two, the call (or non-call) will be a Vine, delivered instantly like an outlet pass starting a fast break all over the web. And many will be hot, hot, hot about what they are sharing.

Image: Emojipedia.

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