In your wildest basketball dreams, what do you see?
That’s not really a rhetorical question. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Count backward from 10 to 1 if you’re so inclined. What else could you possibly imagine when prompted to visualize the Game of Your Dreams?
How do we even deserve this? What basketball god have we managed to please to such a degree that she would choose to deliver unto us pure basketball goodness?
We should have known. When the Knicks and Rockets went down to the wire, and Houston coach Kevin McHale called for his team to sweep the leg on New York’s attempts at a comeback by fouling before the Knicks could get up a 3 to tie the game, that should have been our first indication that magic was in the air.
But we didn’t. Sure, we suspected that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors would give us a rousing contest, but did we know it would be so spectacular — so perfect? We couldn’t have. Even in our most paradisaical dreams, it was too much to ask. The Thunder were on the second half of a back-to-back, and their stars had been stretched to the limit by ejections the night before. The game would be fantastic, undoubtedly, but it wouldn’t be fantasy.
Your breathing seems calmer now, your thoughts more lucid. What do you see? Is it a first half where both teams score 62 points and battle to a draw? Dare you to dream of such things, to risk the chance that to wish for perfection might doom us all to a retched birthmark upon an otherwise flawless form? Klay Thompson made the first 24 minutes his intimate playground, where all he touched to golden sand through which he could run his fingers and build shimmering chateaus in which we can all live and love in our own time. Is that what your dream?
Kevin Durant wasn’t himself tonight, you know. He’s certainly had better nights. Yet even the depths of his struggles towered over the night, the product of the indomitable will of Andre Iguodala. Iguodala’s in your dreams, isn’t he? He was amazing in Denver; here, in Golden State, he’s home. We’re home. We can rest easy and let him do the work of the Sandman, bringing jubilation to our reverie.
You’re tranquil now. Are you at peace with your hopeful stupor? It’s more than acceptable to let go of your conscious desires; they’re unnecessary. The Thunder and Warriors have delivered you from the mundane. Transcendence is the new normal. Embrace the embrace of the universe. It loves you. They love you.
They must. How else does this happen? Coach Scott Brooks leaves Durant in with 4 fouls to start the fourth quarter, as we beseech coaches to do. Isn’t that what we dream? That a coach would trust his charges so that we might trust him?
And Durant picks up his fifth in the blink of an eye. Did you think that was the beginning of the end? Did your heart tighten and your focus start to wither? This is where the tired legs would send the winged down to Earth. It had to be. Nothing this beautiful can last. Nothing this perfect can be.
Your sense of time is fading, isn’t it? Your tenses are blurring. What was, now is; what will be, soon was. Harrison Barnes is taking over. Or did he already?
Reality is unimportant, my friend. Memories remain. Emotion reigns.
The Warriors are up by 10. 12. 14. The descent is here. You were flying, in your dream. Why are you now falling? Why is what you knew now a lie? Where went the perfection?
The ground is rushing toward you much too quickly. The dream will end soon, won’t it? It has to. This cannot be.
The Thunder are down 11. 8. Durant is back. Your wings press against the upward rushing air. Is it time to pull out of your nose dive? Is there time? Was there ever?
A smile. Are you dreaming within a dream yet again?
6 points. 5. Curry makes a free throw. Perfect. 6. Curry misses a free throw. Perfect.
3. 5. 6. It’s slipping. Where does it go, the perfection, when it ends? Does it simply fade? Is there anyone to sing its glory when it is no longer?
Did you blink? Your eyes are still closed. But did you blink? Where did those possessions go? It’s all happening in a whirlwind. Enjoy it. Feel the wind against your skin. It’s coming back. It’s coming back.
The dream. It’s here. It’s coming back, but it’s here. How can that be? Are you dreaming?
It’s going to end soon, isn’t it? That’s the thing about dreams; eventually, we must wake.
They trail by two, clad in their powder blue. This is the end, one way or the other. They’re not calling timeout. How could they? You can’t stop time. It doesn’t exist. It exists eternally.
The play — broken. That pesky defense yet again. Durant won’t get a clean look. Tonight, there’s no way he could. It wasn’t in the cards. Was that what you conjured in your haze? Did you do this?
Westbrook. Westbrook! WESTBROOK! What an ending. Will you open your eyes now? They will win. By the slimmest of margins, this will end.
You refuse. Why?
Is your dream not over? Aren’t you asking for a little much?
Iguodala. Of course. A perfect fadeaway. Perfect form. Perfect result.
In your wildest basketball dreams, what did you see?