OAKLAND — There were a number of areas in Game 1 of the NBA Finals that the Eastern Conference did not prepare Cleveland to handle: The speed of the Warriors, the need to be focused on defense for the full 24 seconds, how to attack a team that is good at switching on defense.
And the physicality.
This is the NBA Finals, not a January Tuesday in Milwaukee, and the referees are letting the players play, something the Cavs didn’t handle as well as coach Tyronn Lue would have liked in Game 1.
“(The officials) allowed a lot of physicality, and we’ve got to be physical. They’re being physical,” Lue said. “All their switches with Steph on LeBron, he’s trying to be physical, bumping LeBron, and we have to take the same approach. I think they’re letting the game be played, and we’ve got to pick up our physicality as well.”
The referee crew for Game 2 is Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, and James Capers — not a trio the Warriors is especially fond of. Foster, in particular, has a quick trigger for handing out technical fouls, something Draymond Green — and all the players on both teams — need to be aware of Sunday night.
For the Warriors, Steve Kerr said he expects a bounce back game from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson after they combined to shoot 8-of-27 in Game 1. Kerr was not worried about their shot selection.
“Those guys are allowed to take any shots they want,” Kerr said. “That’s the rule. Steph and Klay are, nobody else is. I trust their judgment. But the minute I start complaining about bad shots, all I have to do is: Oh, yeah, in Oklahoma City, Game 6, Klay took five bad shots that helped us win.”
Lue emphasized the same things he did since the end of Game 1 — his team needs to play faster and move the ball better in the half court. In that game, the Warriors’ switched everything and the Cavs didn’t handle it well.
“They switch out on all pin-downs, they switch the pick-and-rolls, so they make you play a lot of one-on-one,” Lue said. “So the best thing you can do is try to expose the mismatch with Kevin Love posting up on smaller guys or LeBron, but then they send the double team. So with that being said, we have to play faster and get out in transition to get early, easy baskets. It also opens things up for J.R. Smith and Channing Frye to get shots.”
We’ll find out soon if the Cavaliers actually can play fast with the Warriors.