Monday, May 02, 2011

Heat-Celtics Game 1: A Schrödinger's Cat View


When I watch sports, I do so live, or at least plausibly live once accounting for broadcast, HD and DVR processing delays. And while I can't really have an impact on the game sitting at home on my couch, watching live at least gives me the impression that I can.

That was not the case on Sunday, when I was in Boston for Boston Comic-Con (and a post on that will be coming later today), and couldn't watch the game live. So for the second time in my life -- the first was in 2007, when Warriors/Mavs Game 6 conflicted with the midnight release of Spider-Man 3 -- I recorded a game on my DVR and avoided any news or score updates so I could watch it unspoiled.

It was a weird experience watching the game unfold, even though it was already complete. As I was watching, there were ebbs and flows where I felt like each team could have won, and I resisted the urge to check the final score at any point, for fear of "confirming" my suspicious at that particular moment. The first came at the 6-minute mark, where both teams were struggling to score (it was 6-6 at the under-6 timeout), and I was convinced that the Celtics would win a game played like that. Weirdly, part of me is still convinced that if I'd checked the score at that moment, it would have turned out that the Celtics won the game, even though the result had already been decided long before I reached that point in the game.

For me, the entirety of the game, sitting inside my DVR felt a little like Schrödinger's cat inside that box -- until reaching the end, to my perspective the game existed in a state in which both teams had won. It wasn't until I observed the final score (or really, with about a minute left, when a Heat victory was assured) that the outcome was decided. It's a mind game of perspective. If I'd checked the score before watching the entire game, would the outcome have been different? I have no way of knowing.

I will say that while I enjoyed the ability to fast-forward through commercials, timeouts and halftime, I'd much prefer to watch the game live, experiencing events as they unfold. Strangely, there's a much more nerve-wracking feeling that comes with watching something that's already happened without knowing the outcome.

As for the game itself, I don't really have anything to add beyond what's already been written in countless places. I don't think the Heat can expect to get 25 points from James Jones every game (or, possibly, ever again), nor can they expect Rajon Rondo to only play 32 minutes. However, the defensive philosophy they showed was solid, and I'm sticking by my prediction of Heat in 7.

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