As the Golden State Warriors have ascended from joke to model franchise over the last four seasons, there has also come a certain amount of disdain.
The Warriors celebrate — a lot. Draymond Green plays to the crowd. Stephen Curry dances and shimmies after made 3s. This becomes irritating to opponents.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had plenty to be upset about already, and the Warriors' ways didn't help Thursday in what became a 124-114 overtime loss to Golden State in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.
A charging call against against Kevin Durant was reviewed and overturned and called a blocking foul on LeBron James with 50.8 seconds left in regulation. So instead of the Cavs having the ball with a 104-102 lead, Durant made two free throws to tie the game.
Then there was J.R. Smith dribbling out the clock off an offensive rebound after George Hill missed a free throw with the game tied at 107 with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.
And in the final seconds, tempers were high after another case of what some basketball purists would call another case of the Warriors rubbing it in the face of an opponent.
Shaun Livingston attempted a jumper with 2.6 seconds left in overtime and the Warriors leading 122-114. Tristan Thompson went out to contest the shot. It was ruled that Thompson contested with his elbow high, which resulted in a flagrant 2 and automatic ejection.
"Shaun's a smart player," Thompson said. "He's been in the league a long time. I played with Shaun so he knows, he knows. But he shot the shot, I don't know, maybe he was trying to increase his points but that was some (expletive) but I was there to contest."
Thompson was also confused as to why he was ejected.
"I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken," Thompson said. "I mean, it’s like the unspoken rule in the NBA: If you’re up by 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don’t shoot that shot. I tried to contest, and next thing I know I'm being thrown for a good contest. We practice in training camp, contest every shot, so I don't know why I got thrown out."
Referee Tony Brothers explained why Thompson was ejected.
"From the angle I had on the floor as (Thompson) was coming toward Livingston, his elbow is up high and it appears he hits him in the head when he is coming toward him," Brothers said. "So that's why I called the foul and ejected him."
As Thompson was being told he'd been ejected, he had words with Green, who does his share of agitating during games and drawing the ire of opponents.
"I was walking," Thompson said. "He thought I didn't hear him, but I heard and the rest is history."
Thompson did not disclose what Green said. For his part, Green said there was nothing to make of what happened.
"It wasn't really a verbal altercation," Green said. "It wasn't much verbal. So, yeah, nothing. I really don't know what you want from me. It is what it is. Life goes on."
The Cavs were in a sour mood because of that and the overturned call. The reason for the review was there was "doubt" as to whether James was in the restricted area, but replays showed he was clearly outside.
Once the review began, the officials are allowed to determine if block or charge is the right call.
"LeBron was clearly 4 feet outside the restricted area," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "So it doesn't make sense to go review something if — the review is if he's on the line or if he's close to the charge circle, that's the review. He wasn't close."
Said James: "I was outside the charge line, I stepped in, took the contact. It's a huge play."
So was Smith's gaffe.
Lue said Smith thought Cleveland was up one after the Hill's missed free throw, a serious lapse in focus.
As Smith dribbled out almost to halfcourt, James yelled at him while his teammates looked dumbfounded.
Smith, however, said he knew the score.
"I was trying to get enough (space) to bring it out to get a shot off," Smith said. "I knew we were tied, I thought we were going to call timeout. If I thought we were ahead, I'd have held onto the ball and let them foul me."
James finished with 51 points, a playoff career high, eight rebounds and eight assists. He's just the sixth player to score 50 or more in the Finals, but the first one in a loss. Kevin Love had 21 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland.
"To do what he did tonight and come out robbed, it's just not right," Lue said.
Curry led the Warriors with 29 points and nine assists. Durant scored 26 points.