Game 1 of the NBA Finals was one of the craziest NBA Finals games that I have ever seen. I want to breakdown a few interesting points about the end of the game after rewatching many things, and closely analyzing.
Let’s roll back to 36.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant drives the lane, when LeBron James steps in to try and draw a charge. Originally, the play was called a charge. After review, it was changed to a block. Here’s the play:
33-year-old LeBron James steps in to take a charge in the #NBAFinals
— Hashtag Basketball (@hashBasketball) June 1, 2018
There’s a lot to say about this play. First of all, after watching the play 700 times, it’s definitely a block. LeBron James slid over and wasn’t set when Kevin Durant made contact with him. However, what’s ridiculous here is that the call was changed. There’s an NBA rule that says you can review whether or not the play was in the restricted area. Then, if you’re at the monitor for a play that’s in the restricted area, you can also check to see if the defensive player was set, regardless of what the ruling on the restricted area was.
The refs seemed to take advantage of a bad rule, and pretend to review whether or not the LeBron was in the restricted area, when clearly he wasn’t close. They then changed the call to the right call, but in my opinion, that’s something that never should have been reviewed in the first place. First off, LeBron wasn’t near the restricted area, so the referees shouldn’t have been allowed to go to the monitor. Second, this is a rule that I think the NBA should reevaluate. Again, while the play shouldn’t have been reviewed, it was a blocking foul, so in the end, the call was correct. This gave Kevin Durant two free throws, in which he made to tie of the game 104-104.
Following this play, LeBron James hit a layup to put the Cavs up 106-104 with 32.1 seconds to play. The next play, Steph Curry drove and put in a layup with 23.5 seconds to go, but was fouled by Kevin Love. Here is the play below:
— NBA France (@NBAFRANCE) June 1, 2018
This is a play that isn’t being talked about, but is crucial. There is no reason for Kevin Love to foul here. Due to the foul, the Warriors go up 107-106. This is the first of many miscues by Cleveland towards the end of the game.
Following this play, LeBron passed the ball to a cutting George Hill, who was fouled by Klay Thompson before being able to catch it. This occurred with 4.7 second left. They were in the bonus, so Hill went to the line for two. Hill made the first to tie up the game at 107, but then missed the next free throw. Following was the play that people will be talking about for years. Here it is:
— Sports Burd 🦅 (@Sports_Burd) June 1, 2018
This is the play where I say, ‘forget the refs, you had the chances to win the game’. George Hill missing the free throw is the first error. Hill shot 78.6% from the line this year. You have to make that free throw. Free throws are free for a reason, and if J.R Smith doesn’t make the dumbest play of all-time following the miss, we’d still be ripping George Hill.
This brings me to J.R Smith now. He gets the rebound over Kevin Durant, who should be embarrassed he let up that rebound to J.R. There’s a few things J.R can do. The first is that he can put the ball back up. Kevin Durant was there, but J.R was capable of getting that five footer up. The second is that he can call a quick timeout. The third is that he can pass the ball out to LeBron James who seemed to be standing at the three point line. The third is the least likely scenario as I don’t expect many to have that kind of awareness to pass the ball out like that.
Instead, J.R Smith doesn’t know the score (he claims he did) and dribbles out to waste time. This is one of the most boneheaded moves I’ve ever seen. How do you lack that knowledge in any game, let alone the NBA Finals. This is the second huge error on the Cavs during these few seconds in addition to the missed free throw.
The last thing I want to point out here is also huge. Why were there no Cavs calling a timeout right away. LeBron was trying to get one as time ran out, but that’s it. Tyronn Lue didn’t call a timeout, and the other five players on the floor didn’t think to do that until time ran out. How does the whole team have absolutely zero clue of what to do on an offensive rebound? It just doesn’t make any sense. This is the third big error on this play by the Cavs.
The game ends up going to overtime, where the Warriors pull away. At the end of the game, LeBron James blocked Steph Curry, which led to some trash talking, and then the Warriors took a shot with a few seconds left. Tristan Thompson attempted to block Livingston’s shot, and was ejected because the ref thought he led with his elbow. He shouldn’t have been ejected at that point and I believe nothing will come of it. This led to Draymond Green talking and talking and talking like he normally does, which then led to Tristan Thompson attempting to shove his face, but instead, he hit the ball into his face.
Tristan wants to meet Draymond in the tunnel PREPARE THE SECRET TUNNELS pic.twitter.com/IicLbfGnjA
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) June 1, 2018
If you’re the Cavaliers, how can you let Draymond bring you to that point. This is Draymond’s job! It always has been. He gets under your skin, and causes you to do something stupid. Tristan Thompson won’t be suspended for Game 2, but he certainly risked it by throwing his hand at Draymond Green.
What a wild game… Can’t wait for Game 2 Sunday at 8 p.m on ABC.