CLEVELAND — Steve Kerr knew exactly what he was doing.
In a time-honored NBA Finals tradition used by the likes of Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich, Golden State coach Steve Kerr fired shots at the officiating in his postgame news conference Thursday night. His team just had played poorly, and his star Stephen Curry fouled out (then was ejected for throwing his mouthpiece), in a loss to Cleveland 115-101. Kerr wanted to plant a seed for the next game.
“But (Curry) had every right to be upset. He’s the MVP of the league. He gets six fouls called on him, three of them were absolutely ridiculous,” Kerr said in his rant. “You know, he steals the ball from Kyrie clean at one point. LeBron flops on the last one. Jason Phillips falls for that for a flop. As the MVP of the league, we’re talking about these touch fouls in the NBA Finals.
“Let me be clear, we did not lose because of the officiating, they totally outplayed us and Cleveland deserved to win. But those three of the six fouls were incredibly inappropriate calls for anybody, much less the MVP of the league.”
Kerr wasn’t done. He was asked about Curry throwing his mouthpiece into the crowd after the sixth foul (which based on past precedent will lead to a fine for Curry).
“Yeah, I’m happy he threw his mouthpiece. He should be upset,” Kerr said. “Look, it’s The Finals and everybody’s competing out there. There’s fouls on every play. It’s a physical game. I just think that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the way we run our offense, we’re running, we’re cutting through the lane, we’re a rhythm offense. If they’re going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts and then you’re going to call these ticky-tack fouls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I don’t agree with that.”
Kerr will see this as money well spent if his team wins Game 7.
The officiating has been inconsistent through parts of this series, including Game 6. That cuts both ways, Kevin Love was called for a phantom foul in Game 6 where the official anticipated contact that never occurred.
But through that officiating, Cavaliers have been the more physical team these past couple games. Also, the Cavaliers have played through those calls while the Warriors have focused more on them then lost their composure.
If the Warriors don’t get it back and play through the officiating in Game 7, their historic season will end with a historic collapse.