Dan Feldman

NBA Finals turn feisty

3 Comments

CLEVELAND – LeBron James famously enters “Zero Dark 23,” a social-media blackout, during the playoffs.

Thankfully, Kyrie Irving doesn’t.

“You hear some chatter going on throughout the Warriors’ locker room in terms of them trying to end it here,” Irving said. “…That adds some extra motivation. And you give us a day in between, and we were ready to come out.

“Social media is everywhere. I mean, social media is just – it raises the bar, especially the attention that goes on with it. So, we see everything. I’ll be sitting up here lying saying that I didn’t see it.”

Said LeBron: “I didn’t hear it, but some of the other guys heard it and told me that that they wanted to celebrate on our floor once again and they wanted to spray champagne in our locker rooms, and I think it came from Draymond, which is OK. That’s Dray, anyway.”

Wait until they hear what Draymond Green – who drew a loud reaction when he was seemingly ejected (but actually wasn’t) from the Cavaliers’ Game 4 victory Friday – said in his latest interview.

“I don’t pay much attention to anybody in Cleveland, honestly,” Green said. “Don’t seem to be the sharpest people around.”

Green will have an opportunity not to return this season. This is still a 3-1 series, a historically overwhelming margin – especially with the leading team hosting Game 5.

But there is that one exception in the Finals. And these teams appear to be getting tired of each other entering their 25th matchup in the last three years.

The Cavs are hunting for motivation, and Golden State keeps providing plausible opportunities for them to find it.

Zaza Pachulia punched Iman Shumpert in the nuts and seemed to escape proper punishment. Stephen Curry (again) squatted at mid-court as Steve Kerr or Green picked up a technical.* And Green, at least in the eyes of Cleveland partisans, avoided an ejection he had coming.**

*I legitimately don’t know whether Curry was just stretching, giving his impression of the officiating or anything else. But Richard Jefferson sure appeared to have a reaction to it, and it looked out of place as heated argument was happening above Curry’s head. I asked Curry for an explanation, and he and Durant – rather emphatically – shut me down. Obviously, I still don’t know what Curry was doing. I’m curious Jefferson’s thoughts, though I didn’t get to Cleveland’s locker room tonight to ask him.

**Allowing Green to remain in the game was the right call.

“They aren’t going to punk us. Not me. They’re not about to punk Tristan Thompson,” Tristan Thompson said. “You got the game [expletive] up with that one. You can talk all you want but I’m definitely going to bark back. That’s just how I’m built.

The escalating tension led to one great moment, the best players in the series – Durant and LeBron – jawing with each other for a while.

“You can’t take the emotion out of the game,” Durant said. “We weren’t coming to blows. We were just talking. That’s a part of basketball. The game of basketball created that. The refs didn’t. We didn’t as players. It’s like the aura of the game created trash talk.

“I’m sure it’s going to continue. There’s nothing malicious, or we didn’t say anything malicious. It was just a part of the game. Emotions are what keeps this game alive.”

Durant has acquitted himself well to all this, including not being fazed by Dahntay Jones talking smack to him from the bench. Green might be the Warrior most comfortable in this environment, one that clearly benefited the Cavs overall tonight.

“I love this game. I love you all,” Green said after the loss. “I’m having a great time right now.

“Ain’t no tech going to stop me from being me.”

But what about the rest of Warriors?

“We’ve got to find our edge next game,” Curry said.

Referee on Draymond Green technical-foul mix-up: ‘I should have done a better job’

6 Comments

CLEVELAND – Draymond Green and Steve Kerr argued a call in the first quarter of Game 4 Friday, and officials called a technical foul on a Warrior. Which Warrior? Kerr appeared to catch a little more of the refs’ attention, but the official box score listed the tech as Green’s.

Green definitely got a technical foul in the third quarter. It initially appeared to be his second, which would have brought an automatic ejection. But officials ruled it was his first and allowed him to stay in the game.

What happened?

NBA release:

NBA Officials Mike Callahan and John Goble met with pool reporter Brian Mahoney (Associated Press) after the game between the Warriors and Cavaliers in Cleveland tonight. Here is the transcript of that interview:

Q: Can you explain what happened in the third quarter?

Callahan: “When the technical foul was called on Draymond Green, we reported it to the table. The table informed us that it was his second technical foul and ejected. We informed the table that it was not his second technical foul.”

Q: When did you become aware that the one that you called on Kerr, which John that was you, had been charged to Green?

Callahan: “We found out at the same time when we called the first technical foul (6:18, 3rd ) on Draymond Green. That’s when we were informed by the table.”

Q: When you actually called the one on Kerr, how did you explain it to the table and everything?

Goble: “After calling the loose ball foul on Draymond Green, I noticed the reaction by Coach Kerr and then assessed the technical foul. In the moment, I thought I had verbalized to the table that the technical foul was on Coach Kerr. After looking at the video, I did not verbalize to the table, and looking at the video, I should have done a better job of making sure that the table knew the technical foul was on Coach Kerr.”

Q: What is the usual procedure for making sure that it has been logged correctly by the scorer?

Callahan: “The procedure is to advise the table who the technical foul is on and with the player we give a number. With a coach or trainer, we just verbalize and at that time we should listen to the PA announcer to who it is on. At that time, we did not do a very good job of listening to the PA announcer and we did not hear him announce it. I take full responsibility for that.”

It was a predicament created by their own mishandling of the first technical, but if it happened as they explained, the officials eventually got this right.

If the first technical was on Kerr, it was on Kerr. Green was called for only one technical. A scorekeeping error shouldn’t change the facts and create alternate consequences.

Perfection averted: Cavaliers stand up to Warriors in Game 4 win

7 Comments

CLEVELAND – Draymond Green got a technical foul or two. Richard Jefferson got in the face of an again-squatting Stephen Curry. Dahntay Jones received a tech for talking smack to Kevin Durant from the bench. LeBron James and Durant jawed at each other. Zaza Pachulia punched Iman Shumpert in the nuts.

And that was just during stoppages.

The Cavaliers beat the Warriors, 137-116, in an action-packed Game 4 Friday to trim Golden State’s NBA Finals lead to 3-1.

One year after becoming the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, is Cleveland on its way to becoming the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in any NBA series? We’ll learn more in Game 5 Monday in Oakland.

For now, the Cavaliers should be content to prolong the series, ruin what could have been the first perfect postseason in NBA history and put their own names in the record book.

The Cavs scored 49 points in the first quarter (a Finals record for any quarter) and 86 points in the first half (a playoff record for a first half in at least the shot-clock era). They made 24-of-45 3-pointers (53%), making Finals records set just four days ago already seem quaint. Their 137 total points were the most in a Finals game since 1987.

And they sure stunted while lighting up the scoreboard.

Behind it all was sound execution from a team that dared try to just outscore the Warriors in an offensive duel – and won.

LeBron (31 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) and Kyrie Irving (40 points, seven rebounds and four assists) were again outstanding. Unlike Game 3, they had help.

Kevin Love (23 points, five rebounds and two steals) looked like a true third star and continued to play actively.

Tristan Thompson (10 rebounds and five assists), with Kardashians in the house, finally showed up.

The Warriors, now 15-1 in the playoffs, failed to clinch the first perfect postseason in NBA history. What could have been the first line in their case as the greatest team of all-time is now null. They won’t get to re-coat the visiting locker room here in champagne smell.

But they can still win their second title in three years at home Sunday and, in a “light years ahead” move, make a ton of money doing it.

Golden State is still in the driver’s seat, but the Cavs gave the 2017 postseason one more thrilling night and a reason to wonder: Can they do it again?

Zaza Pachulia punches Iman Shumpert in the nuts, both get techs (video)

11 Comments

CLEVELAND – Zaza Pachulia – the villain of the 2017 NBA playoffs – lived up to his reputation when he punched Iman Shumpert in the nuts.

I understand it’s not ideal to be in a prone position surrounded by opponents. But that is not an appropriate response. And I guess Shumpert hovered over him too long after the whistle or something.

Draymond Green seemingly ejected, actually isn’t (video)

3 Comments

CLEVELAND – Draymond Green received his second technical foul, per the official box score. The Cavaliers’ announcer declared him ejected. Green sarcastically called for more noise from Cleveland fans as if he were giving a final sendoff.

Yet, the Warriors forward remained in the game.

Green and Golden State coach Steve Kerr were simultaneously arguing a call in the first half when refs called a technical foul. It wasn’t entirely clear on whom, though my guess was Kerr. The scorekeeper marked Green.

Either way, for a player who blamed himself for getting suspended and the Warriors losing last year, Green hasn’t shown much restraint tonight.