Monday, May 2, 2016


He is, it turns out, one of the great mythological figures of all time, at least within the proscribed confines of our playing fields and athletic arenas.

Mo. Mo Mentum. Guy's about as real as the Easter bunny.

Oh, we all like to talk about him as if he's flesh and blood and bone, especially when we're talking about the artificial construct of a playoff series. It's the first to four wins in a seven-game universe, and Mo is huge in that universe, the acknowledged ruler of the kingdom. Win Game 1, and Mo's with you. Win the pivotal Game 3 or Game 5, and he'll be with you for Game 4 or Game 6, guaranteed, because that's the way the world works.

Except it doesn't.

Except Mo is someone who exists only in the minds of men, a false god of well-being. Truth is, momentum ends the second the puck is dropped or the ball is tipped or the pitcher comes set and lets go of that first heater. Whatever happened before that has no consequence. Everything resets from that moment, and good old Mo is once more in the wind.

Thought about that a lot Sunday when the Raptors closed out the Pacers in Game 7 of their first-round NBA series, 89-84. DeMar DeRozen dropped 30 on the Indy boys. Paul George went for another double-double -- 26 and 12 this time -- but got little help from anyone else. The seedings -- Toronto was a 2-seed and Indiana a 7-seed -- held to form.

Go back 48 hours, however, and you'd never have believed it would play out that way.

Forty-eight hours before, after all, the Pacers crushed the Raptors 101-83 in Game 6 in Indianapolis. George double-doubled again with 21 and 11. All five Pacers scored in double figures. And DeRozen was a virtual ghost, finishing with just eight points.

The narrative that followed this was that the Pacers had seized control of the series, and the Raptors were in serious trouble. Examples were cited of previous Game 7 roadies in which the Pacers had triumphed. They had, it seemed, finally proved they were the tougher, smarter, more resilient team in this series.

Until, you know, they weren't.

All Game 6 meant, in the end, was that the Pacers were better in Game 6, a pretty much universal truth. No matter the sport, no matter the circumstance, a win in any one game of a seven-game series only means you were better that game. It has absolutely zero impact on what's going to happen in the next game; a seven-game series, it turns out, is not a narrative but a series of largely unrelated events. It's not a novel but a collection of short stories.

As we discovered once again Sunday. And no doubt will continue to.

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