OAKLAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers said after Game 1 that it was too hard to prepare for the Golden State Warriors during their long layoff before the NBA Finals.
It resulted in a broken gameplan that allowed Kevin Durant to dunk more times in a playoff game than ever before in his career as the Dubs went on to win by 22.
Durant’s not counting on driving lanes remaining that open in Game 2 tonight at Oracle Arena.
“They’re just going to muck the game up and be physical,” he said after practice at the Warriors headquarters on Saturday.
Mucking up the game is something these Dubs have been wary of throughout the playoffs. Since sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers, they expected the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs to slow down the pace, forcing a more physical contest.
Obviously, neither of those teams had much success doing that. And, after speaking to the Cavs, it’s not clear they actually want to decelerate the game.
“We’re not making too many adjustments. We just need to play better,” a typically candid Richard Jefferson said.
“We have the best downhill guy in the NBA. When you combine that with Kyrie [Irving] and his ability to finish in transition, it allows guys like JR [Smith] and Kyle Korver to hit open shots. So we don’t want to slow up the pace,” he said.
The best way to get out in transition is to force your opponent into a turnover or a missed 3-pointer. Cleveland committed 20 of both in the series opener, when the Cavs became the first team in the history of the Finals to not log a steal.
“You need to be more aggressive, you need to have a better attitude — if it were that easy, we would all do it,” LeBron James said Saturday. “It’s not that simple, especially when you’re going against such a well-oiled machine in Golden State.”
Durant, Brown helped each other transition to life with the Warriors
Two of the most important characters for the Dubs in the playoffs — Kevin Durant and acting head coach Mike Brown — are also newcomers to the team.
They may be completely in sync with Steve Kerr’s free-flowing system now, but it wasn’t always like that, according to Durant.
“The first day I heard the music turn up as soon as coach finished talking to us before practice started. … And I’m looking at Mike, I’m like, I’m not used to this,” Durant said.
“It was an adjustment for both of us. It was great for me to have Mike to go through the season with me and help me out and help me get adjusted. I think I helped him out as well.”
No members of the RihannaNavy on the Dubs
Noted LeBron James fan and pop music icon Rihanna sat courtside during Game 1, and heckled the Warriors.
It didn’t bother Stephen Curry, who said those kind of interactions are a part of the job.
But don’t expect the Dubs to play any RiRi in the locker room after the game. Not because of who she roots for, but because she wasn’t on the playlist anyways.
“I don’t think it was on there to begin with,” Curry said when a reporter asked if the team was banning Rihanna’s music.
A reporter asked Cavs guard JR Smith if they would be “dirtying up the game” in response to their toothless showing on Thursday.
“I don’t know about that,” Smith said before taking a shot at Draymond Green. “They got one guy who keeps kicking people in the nuts. I don’t know about that. But we won’t dirty up the game.”
And LeBron swears Cleveland and Golden State don’t have a rivalry.
Contact Jacob C. Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.Cleveland CavaliersDraymond GreenGolden State Warriorsjr smithKevin DurantLeBron JamesMike BrownNBA FinalsNBA Playoffsrichard jeffersonStephen CurrySteve Kerr