In a vacuum, the Cavaliers and Warriors played a great game on Christmas. But the background made it even more dramatic. Most of those players had met in the last two NBA Finals and developed a rivalry as a result.
The notable exception, of course, was Kevin Durant, who signed with Golden State last summer.
But it sounds as if he acclimated to the passion of the rivalry quickly.
Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson received a technical foul for winking at Durant after dunking on him, which led to some griping by the Cavs about Durant.
Cavs players were upset Jefferson was T’d up because, in their opinion, Durant was doing far worse. Durant dropped some choice expletives on Kevin Love following his dunks, including calling him a motherf—–. Players questioned how Durant can get away with calling a player that while Jefferson gets whistled for a smile and a wink.
The NBA acknowledged LeBron James should have been called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. I wouldn’t be surprised if the league rescinds Jefferson’s technical. A lesser player in a lower-profile game probably would have gotten a second tech for acting like Draymond Green did. It’s fairly clear this officiating crew didn’t handle technical fouls appropriately Sunday, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Durant deserved one.
But when it comes to trash-talking between the Warriors and Cavaliers, the Cavs can’t claim a moral high ground.