Dahntay Jones

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Dahntay Jones: Stephen Curry not a top-10 player

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The Cavaliers have signed Dahntay Jones late the last couple seasons to serve as agitator.

He’s working off the clock.

Jones on Stephen Curry, via Mickstape:

People get mad at me, because I don’t declare him a top-10 player in the NBA, which is fine.

I’ve got him on the outside – like 11, 12.

Jones listed his top 10, the first three ordered and 4-10 not:

1. LeBron James

2. Kawhi Leonard

3. Kevin Durant

Curry has finished sixth, first, first, sixth in MVP voting the last four years. But the Warriors guard isn’t a top-10 player?

Jones isn’t as dumb as this take makes him seem. He knows where his bread is buttered.

Technical-foul count through the roof in NBA Finals

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Did the style of Game 4 of the NBA Finals – emotional, physical, intense – benefit the Cavaliers over the Warriors?

“It benefited them tonight, for sure,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.

Kerr was admitting a defeat, not perpetual defeat, in this area. But the Warriors will have to rise to the challenge, because Cleveland sounds committed to maintaining it.

“The first two games, we were being too nice,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “The first three games, helping guys up off the floor, smiling, talking to guys and – yeah, I didn’t like that. So I’ll take Game 4 over anything else. Talking trash, being physical – whatever you got to do to try to get that edge to win, you’ve got to do it.”

The Cavaliers, with the help of the referees, brought a chaotic feistiness to Game 4 – and thrived in it. This Finals, the first matchup of teams that met the previous two years, already featured plenty of testiness. Game 4 just upped the hostility.

The first three games of the series saw three technical fouls. There hadn’t been an entire NBA Finals with more than that in six years. Game 4 added seven (!) technical fouls.

Here’s how many technical fouls each team and each Finals had called since 2009 (as far back as the NBA’s available records went back):

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The 2017 Finals are only four games in. Per game, the technical-foul rate blows the other Finals on record out of the water:

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Obviously, not all these technical fouls speak to resentment between the teams. Officiating so bad, the referees acknowledged their errors, led to a lot of frustration. But just two Game Four techs – one on Steve Kerr (or Draymond Green for the conspiracy theorists) and one definitely on Green – came for arguing with the referees. The others stemmed from player-player disputes:

The Cavs want this tumultuousness. That and making 3-pointers is their best chance for a comeback. Draymond Green, arguably Golden State’s emotional leader, is happy to oblige in this spirit of play.

So, bring on the technical fouls – baited, earned and in between.

NBA Finals turn feisty

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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.

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

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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?

Dahntay Jones throws Stephen Curry to the floor (video)

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Watch Dahntay Jones‘ method of chasing an offensive rebound. He scoots behind Stephen Curry and tosses the Warriors star to the floor.

Could this just be Jones’ weighing risk-reward in the context of the game, a desperation play as the Cavaliers were losing big late, and not something dirtier? He should get no benefit of the doubt. Stirring up trouble in garbage time is Jones’ role on this team.