Warriors

J.R. Smith's blunder costs Cavs chance at Game 1 upset

J.R. Smith's blunder costs Cavs chance at Game 1 upset

OAKLAND -- 4.7 seconds might end up deciding the 2018 NBA Finals. It’s a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, but for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was all that was needed for everything to come undone.

It’s a play that will go down in basketball lore as one of the most inexcusable mental lapses ever. Or maybe it wasn’t. That depends on who you believe.

With just under five seconds remaining in Game 1, George Hill bricked a free throw that would have given the Cleveland Cavaliers an improbable one-point lead in the waning seconds over the Warriors on their home court.

Veteran J.R. Smith snared a rebound, giving the Cavs a second shot to win it in regulation. Instead of going back up with it, Smith dribbled the ball almost to halfcourt, while Steph Curry and Klay Thompson surrounded him and LeBron James stood nearby in anguish.

“George shot the free throw, I got the rebound,” Smith said following the game. “Tie ballgame and we had a timeout. I tried to get enough space to maybe get a shot off. KD [Kevin Durant] was standing right there. I tried to bring it out and get enough space to maybe get a shot off. I looked over at 'Bron [LeBron James] and he looked like he was trying to call a timeout. So I stopped, and the game was over.”

When pressed on whether he knew the score of the game, Smith responded, “I knew it was tied, I just thought we were going to call a timeout because I got the rebound.”

Smith’s head coach had a different view of the play.

“He thought it was over,” Tyronn Lue said. “He thought we were up one.”

James, who had the best view of the play and a wide open look from the top of the key, didn’t know what to make of the situation. After posting 51 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in almost 48 minutes of action, he wasn’t exactly in a talkative mood after the loss.

“I knew it was a tie game,” James said. “We were down one. George Hill went up, he made the first one. We got the offensive rebound, you know, I thought we were all aware of what was going on. That’s my view. I don’t know what J.R. was thinking. I don’t know the question you are trying to ask.”

Media members pressed James for more answers, but the four-time league MVP didn’t bite.

Smith bears the brunt of the blame. As the old NBA adage goes, any shot is better than no shot. He had plenty of opportunity to pull up and shoot, pass to a teammate with a better look or even call a timeout himself.

Letting the clock wind out is completely inexcusable for a rookie, let alone a 14-year NBA veteran. It was a huge gaffe, but there are plenty of other issues to examine.

First and foremost, Hill’s miss at the line would have given the Cavs a lead with less than five seconds remaining. The Warriors would have had an opportunity to inbound the ball and go for the win, but we’ll never know how that would have turned out.

Clearly upset by the situation, Hill walked out of the locker room without speaking to the media following the game.

Secondly, the Cavs had an opportunity to actually call a timeout and run one last play. Again, we have no idea of how that might have worked out, but there were plenty of people employed by the Cavs, not named J.R. Smith, that could have halted the game while he was wandering around burning precious seconds.  

Lastly, the Cavs didn’t lose the game in the final seconds, they just didn’t win it. Golden State came out and mauled them in the overtime session, outscoring Cleveland 17-7 in the extra five minutes of play.

Either way, Game 1 was a golden opportunity for the Cavs to steal away homecourt advantage and change the entire narrative surrounding this year’s NBA Finals. Cleveland has two days to lick its wounds and prepare for another battle with the Warriors come Sunday.

Down 0-1 to the reigning champs, the Cavs can’t afford to make anymore game-altering mistakes.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 124, Cavaliers 114
Game 2 Oakland -- Sunday, June 3 at 5pm
Game 3 Cleveland -- Wednesday, June 6 at 6pm
Game 4 Cleveland -- Friday, June 8 at 6pm
Game 5 Oakland -- Monday, June 11 at 6pm
Game 6 Cleveland -- Thursday, June 14 at 6pm
Game 7 Oakland -- Sunday, June 17 at 5pm

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disastrous loss to Mavs

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disastrous loss to Mavs

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – No energy, no chemistry, no chance.

Facing the downtrodden Dallas Mavericks on Saturday at Oracle Arena, the Warriors responded with perhaps their worst performance of the season, earning a 126-91 loss for their efforts.

This was so bad that not even Stephen Curry’s presence – he was given the night off – would have been enough to affect a rescue.

Eighteen days after a 33-point loss to Boston was the worst home loss of the Kerr era, the Warriors topped it. Or bottomed it.

Here are three takeaways from a game which should have no redeeming value to the Warriors:

Awfully atrocious abnormalities

After generating tremendous defensive momentum over the past five games – third in the league in defensive rating during that stretch – the Warriors were two levels below atrocious in the first half.

The Mavericks drained 12 of their first 15 shots. They shot 65.2 percent in building a 37-22 lead after one quarter. They made 11 of their first 18 3-pointers. With the usual transgressions – slow rotations, miscommunication and playing too loosely – on full display, Warriors coach Steve Kerr dipped into his timeout allotment three times in the first 14 minutes.

While Dallas was scorching the nets, the Warriors were tossing up brick, boulders and sticks, shooting 29.6 percent in the first quarter and 36.7 percent for the half.

The Mavs, from the jump, came at the Warriors, whose response was tepid, light years away from their recent championship-caliber defense. With the Warriors playing in a stupor, that defense did not make it to Oracle Arena.

Misfiring shooters

With Curry out, the other members of the Warriors bomb squad knew it was on them to carry the offense. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are capable of completing that assignment.

They failed spectacularly this time.

Durant, clearly responding to the circumstances, was aggressive but nowhere near his usual efficiency. Two days after putting up nine shots in a win over the Pacers, he jacked up 12 in the first quarter. He made four. He finished with 25 points on 9-of-25 shooting over 29 minutes.

Thompson was slightly worse, finishing 4-of-13 over 27 minutes.

The two All-Stars combined to 0-of-12 from deep.

As unsightly as it was, it would have been worse if not for the offense of DeMarcus Cousins, who shot 8-of-11 in scoring scored 19 points – which wasn’t close to being enough.

The liabilities and assets of short memories

With an 82-game schedule, there is something to be said about forgetting the last game and focusing on the next. It usually is the fastest route to recovery.

But the Warriors cited their March 10 loss to Phoenix as a turning point. They knew they had no business being roasted by the worst team in the Western Conference, one eagerly looking forward to the lottery. Embarrassed, they said.

The implication was, rather than forget it and move on, it was worth remembering for its motivational powers.

Then, 13 days later, this.

This actually was worse. The Suns prevailed in a close game. The Mavericks were never threatened, succeeding from the opening tip until the final horn.

The lesson for the Warriors in losing to the Suns at Oracle was supposed to be that any opponent is capable of beating them, despite back-to-back championships. To really remember that loss is to not allow a team such as Dallas to come in and thrive.

Warriors vs. Mavericks watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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AP

Warriors vs. Mavericks watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

OAKLAND – On Saturday afternoon, for one final time, Dirk Nowitzki will return to the scene of the crime.

Back in April 2007, Nowitzki was assaulted in public, right there on the floor of Oracle Arena. He and his Dallas Mavericks teammates were roughed up and kicked completely out of the playoffs by a marauding band of Warriors with more heart and fight than size and might.

Nearly 12 years later, Nowitzki will be making his final appearance at Oracle when the Mavericks, already eliminated from the playoffs, come upon the Warriors, who lead the Western Conference and stand 21.5 games ahead of Dallas in the standings.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 o’clock with Warriors Outsiders, followed by Warriors Pregame at 4:30, with tipoff scheduled for 5:30.

[RELATED: How to watch Mavericks-Warriors online and on MyTeams app]

Whereas the 2006-07 Warriors achieved one of the greatest upsets in NBA playoffs history, ousting top-seed Dallas with a 111-86 rout in Game 6 at Oracle, the current Warriors are heavily favored to not only beat the Mavericks but also make a fifth consecutive trip to The Finals.

The Warriors (49-22) have won four of their last five games and are showing signs of peaking for a postseason that begins in exactly three weeks, which half explains why Stephen Curry has been given a “rest night.”

The other half of the explanation is that Mavericks (28-44) are bound for the lottery, which isn’t the most fitting farewell for Nowitzki, who turns 41 in June and is expected to retire. Rookie sensation Luka Doncic is poised to inherit the torch in Dallas.

In any case, with the Warriors bound for Chase Center in October, it’s Dirk’s last dance at Oracle.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
G Quinn Cook

Mavericks

F Justin Jackson
F Maxi Kleber
C Dwight Powell
G Jalen Brunson
G Luka Doncic

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C Andrew Bogut (rest), G Stephen Curry (rest), C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) and G Shaun Livingston (rest) are listed as out.

Mavericks: G J.J. Barea (R Achilles’ tendon surgery), Tim Hardaway Jr. (L tibia stress reaction) and F Kristaps Porzingis (L knee surgery rehab) are listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: With Curry out, Cook is the most likely starter at PG. Kerr likes the idea of having at least three shooters on the floor and Cook qualifies. Starting him also would maintain the integrity of the rotation. It’s conceivable that rookie Jacob Evans III, summoned from Santa Cruz, could get a few minutes . . . Coach Steve Kerr’s decision to rest two PGs (Livingston being the other) is risky, as it leaves Andre Iguodala as the secondary playmaker. If Cook gets into foul trouble, Iguodala’s minutes could rise . . . With Bogut out, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell likely will share minutes behind Cousins at C. PF Jonas Jerebko could see time at both PF and C . . . Durant is two 3-pointers away from surpassing Glen Rice (1,559) and moving into 25th place on the all-time list of triples . . . The Warriors have won 12 in a row over the Mavericks at Oracle.

Mavericks: Nowitzki is averaging 13.7 minutes per game and has exceeded 20 only once since March 2 . . . Doncic has won all four Rookie of the Month awards this season, making him the front-runner to be named Rookie of the Year . . . Now three weeks past his 20th birthday, he is showing signs of fatigue. He’s shot 37.8 percent, 23.1 percent from deep, over the past 10 games. His season percentages are 42.6 and 33.3 . . . Brunson, a rookie from Villanova, has four games with at least 20 points since the Feb. 14-20 All-Star break. He’s averaging 15.7 ppg and 30.3 mpg during since then . . . Powell also has benefitted from the post-break youth movement. His mpg have nearly doubled (18.5 to 32.2) as have his ppg (8.7 to 15.7) . . . The Warriors benefit from the absence of Barea, who has a tendency to play particularly well against them.

Officials: Eric Lewis (chief), Mark Ayotte, Matt Boland.