USA Today Images

Incredible Game 1

J.R Smith does one of the most J.R. Smith things ever.

June 01, 2018 - 10:09 am
Categories: 

How was your night? What did you get up to? Did you watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals... Or were you just not that into seeing these two teams play again… were you sticking to your hot take and lava, that the Warriors are bad for the NBA, that you’ve seen this movie three times already, and that you had better things to do. That ANYTHING would be better than seeing the Warriors and Cavs run it back a fourth time.  Because if you were spewing that lava and you did find something else to do last night, you missed one of the best things ever. J.R SMITH doing one of the most J.R. Smith things ever, on the biggest stage imaginable and blowing a chance to steal a game, rip home court and actually give his team a legitimate chance in the series. Instead, J.R, implodes, wasting one the greatest night’s ever by one of the game’s best to ever do it and instead of winning, they get smacked in O.T. 124-114.

Not bad for a game that all you lava aficionados swore you’d never watch. Not only was it not that bad, it was absolutely incredible. There were so many different elements, I could do six hours of show on this game alone.

That game was so good that LeBron showing up for the game in a suit with shorts, Angus Young-style, was forgotten by the time the game was over. An incredible look by the way. JaVale McGee came out of nowhere, was an absolute beast in the third quarter, guarding everyone on the floor and causing havoc, and even he was an afterthought by the time the game was over. 

Because that fourth quarter was one for the ages. It was so good, there are a couple of things that I’m just going to have to put a pin in them and get back to them later. Like the play of Earl Joseph “J.R.” Smith the Third. And the play of LeBron Raymone James Sr. they were both so epic, they get their own takes.

I can’t even cover the whole game in this take. I can’t get to Klay Thompson looking like he had his leg snapped off by J. R. Smith in the first quarter and then coming back to play 45 minutes and score 24. I don’t have time to discuss Steph Curry’s epic shot at the end of the first half. And I can’t get into the fact that JaVale legitimately was a massive force in the third quarter. 

Even skipping over that, I still have no space to lay out that Larry Nance Jr was huge for Cleveland. Or that twitter roasted Jordan Clarkson. Again. Or that the Cavs played a nearly perfect game, that they were standing in the center of the ring, trading haymakers with the Warriors, and were completely unafraid. 

I could spend a whole hour on the final minute of regulation alone. You have LeBron’s three-point play with 50.8 seconds left that gives Cleveland a 104-102 lead. Then Kevin Durant goes to respond, but is called for a charge on LeBron. Or was he? Well, he was. But then the officials met, reviewed it, and changed it to a blocking foul.

I get the explanation for why they were allowed to review it – because they thought LeBron might have had a foot in the restricted area, which he didn’t, he was nowhere close. And I won’t disagree with you if you want to argue that they ultimately got the call right and it should’ve been a blocking foul all along. 

But I completely understand why the Cavs were pissed. I would’ve been, too. Because in the final minute of the game, you reviewed a call for a particular reason and reversed the call for a completely different reason. I’d have been raging. And after the game, the Cavs were. Dave McMenamin tweeted: Four words I’ve heard more than once being muttered under Cleveland personnel’s breaths in the Cavs postgame locker room: “Ken Mauer f***ed us” 

Normally, I’d say complaining about the refs is weak, but Ken Mauer bleeped us is a really strong line. And I’m having a really hard time disagreeing with some of it. That doesn’t mean there weren’t other factors in the loss – I’ll get to that factor, trust me, but the refs made sure everyone knew they were in the house. 

After the reversal, Durant makes both foul shots and the game is tied. LeBron scores again with 32.1 left to re-take the lead. Curry converts a three-point play to give Golden State a 1-point lead again. And then, well, then that’s when it all got nice. Real nice. And  I’m going to need to spend a whole take on what happened next in regulation. We’ll mark the tape right here and come back to that. 

Because I need to skip forward to the end of overtime and this moment. Tristan Thompson gets a Flagrant 2 and is tossed. Everyone comes together, there’s a scrum and then as Draymond is gleefully celebrating, looking to hook fools. And he did when, Thompson shoved the ball in Draymond’s face.

Afterwards, Thompson said.

It wasn’t, T. I might agree with you if you said the call was some bull bleep, but shooting the ball before the shot clock expires is not bull bleep. Shooting the ball before the shot clock expires is LITERALLY WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. That is why it is called the SHOT CLOCK. And when the shot clock is running, the rule is you have to shoot the ball before it expires. 

I know you might think that’s breaking the code, but as Livingston explained after the game, the Warriors have a code that they never give away a possession like that. They don’t just dribble it out. They won’t just take the turnover. You might. They don’t. And I don’t have a problem with it. And neither should you. Or anyone else. Because they weren’t’ showing you up. They weren’t disrespecting you or the game.

And shooting a mid-range jumper isn’t rubbing it in. In fact, it’s the opposite of rubbing it in. If Livingston stepped back for a three, or drove to the bucket for a dunk, or tossed up an alley-oop, I’m with you. That’s rubbing it in. But just shooting a mid-range jumper is not. 

Now, let’s break down the call itself. I’m not here to second-guess the refs, again, but I will say, I would have had no problem if they just called a regular foul on Thompson or didn’t even bother calling anything at all. Like I said, if Thompson’s problem was with the ref and not Livingston, I’m with him. There are 2.6 seconds left in overtime. The game has been decided. Let it end. Don’t drag it out. Don’t create a situation for bad blood in Game 1 of a series. But they did. 

And that was only a small part of an epic game. Because I haven’t even touched on the moment that will be replayed for decades.