Shootaround (June 2) -- Tristan Thompson neutralized in Game 1 of The Finals
Plus, some potential good news on the Steve Kerr front, a sad day in Detroit and more
Cavs’ Thompson rendered a non-factor in Game 1 — One of the players on just about everyone’s short list of potential X-factors for The Finals was Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson. Yet after a solid showing throughout the playoffs, Thompson was not able to do his usual work on the glass in the Cavs’ Game 1 loss, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
Tristan Thompson knows the sound well, when a boisterous crowd goes silent as he’s pulling down an offensive rebound and giving the explosive Cavaliers another offensive possession. He sees the exasperated look on the opponent’s face and shoulders begin to drop.
He saw that look again Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, only this time it came from the guys in navy, wine and gold.
“It’s deflating,” Thompson said of the Warriors’ offensive rebounds.
Thompson — who has become a menace this time of year, when possessions are vital — entered the Finals series brimming with confidence, knowing the smaller Warriors could have problems with his hustle and muscle. He had given Golden State issues in the past, an overlooked story during back-to-back wins to force a Game 7 last year. All those gritty plays were buried underneath the brilliance of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
But in Game 1, Thompson was ineffective, as the Warriors pushed their lead to a point where Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue had to pull his big man off the floor midway through the third quarter.
“Once we got down, we decided to go to the offensive lineup, the offensive unit,” Lue said. “And with Tristan, he’s a monster on the boards. So they’re putting two or three guys on him to block him out so he can’t rebound the basketball.”
His rim protection, at the center of the team’s defensive turnaround in the playoffs, was nonexistent. The undersized, “jump-shooting” Warriors pounded the Cavs in the paint, scoring 56 points, including numerous dunks and layups.
“We kept Tristan off the boards to the best of our abilities,” said JaVale McGee, who had more rebounds than Thompson despite playing six total minutes. “You can’t be worried about getting the rebound yourself. That’s where most people go wrong with him. We just tried to box him out so he wasn’t able to give them a spark.”
The playoffs are oftentimes about possessions. Because of the head-scratching turnovers and the second-chance points, the Cavs took 20 fewer shots than the Warriors in Game 1, something that is certainly correctable. But only if Thompson bounces back from his forgettable zero-point-four-rebound performance.
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Report: Kerr hasn’t been ruled out for Game 2 yet — The Golden State Warriors have a 1-0 NBA Finals lead after last night’s win. They got that victory without coach Steve Kerr leading the charge, as they have gotten many of their wins in these playoffs. While Kerr’s status remains as up in the air as ever, the good news is he hasn’t been ruled out yet for Game 2. Ramona Shelburne and Chris Haynes of ESPN.com have more:
If Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr feels well over the next few days without any setbacks, there remains some optimism he could coach Sunday in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told ESPN.
“He may coach Sunday. He’s feeling better,” a source close to Kerr told ESPN’s Marc Spears.
Kerr had been feeling well enough earlier this week to be hopeful that he would be able to coach in Game 1 on Thursday, but according to team sources, after he had a bad day Wednesday, he decided it was best for acting head coach Mike Brown to continue leading the team.
Brown urged Kerr to wait until game time to make a final decision about coaching Game 1, but Kerr felt he needed to string together several good days in a row before returning.
Kerr watched Game 1 with Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton as Brown tallied his 11th consecutive victory with a 113-91 rout of his former team at Oracle Arena.
Kerr doesn’t want to be a distraction, but the team doesn’t view this situation as such and is committed to seeing the process through.
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Davidson’s death closes chapter of Pistons’ history — Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguire, Bill Laimbeer and others comprised the on-court heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” championship teams of the late 1980s and early ’90s. While those faces are alive and well, the passing of former GM Jack McCloskey on Thursday means the last of the men who helped make those Pistons teams has gone. Tony Paul of The Detroit News has more:
Three men were considered the architects of one of the greatest sports teams ever assembled, the 1990s Pistons “Bad Boys.”
Owner Bill Davidson died in 2009 at age 86, coach Chuck Daly died later in 2009 at 78. And on Thursday, general manager Jack McCloskey died at 91, the Pistons announced.
McCloskey had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease in recent years, a diagnosis made public last month.
“It’s scary almost to think about that,” said George Blaha, the longtime Pistons broadcaster, “that none of them are with us anymore.
“He was an amazing guy, and his name hangs from the rafters for a good reason. He built one of the greatest teams in NBA history, and one of the most important and popular teams in Detroit and Michigan history.
“Everybody knows about the ‘Bad Boys,’ and he was the architect of the ‘Bad Boys.'”
In 1981, he used the second overall pick in the draft to select a sophomore guard out of Indiana named Isiah Thomas, and the rest is history — thanks to good drafting (Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, John Salley), as well as shrewd and in many places gutsy trades (Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson, Mark Aguire), earning him the moniker, “Trader Jack.”
So fearless with trades, in fact, he once offered the Lakers his entire Pistons roster for Earvin “Magic” Johnson, according to longtime Pistons beat writer Keith Langlois.
“He would always listen,” Blaha said. “When the Pistons weren’t quite good enough, he tried to make them better. One thing he did do, he did stay with the guys who won in 1989 and ’90, even though they didn’t get back to the Finals in 1991.
“Those were his guys. You could see him walking off the court with tears in his eyes. He was as much of a ‘Bad Boy’ as anybody.”
McCloskey left the team after a first-round playoff exit in 1992 — seeing the writing on the wall, Daly left, too, to coach New Jersey — and later worked briefly for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors.
But he’ll best be remembered for his time in Detroit. In 2006, McCloskey was enshrined into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, and was honored by the Pistons in 2008 when his name was placed on a banner and sent to the rafters of The Palace. His name will be moved this fall to the rafters at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, the Pistons’ new home.
“When Jack had his name raised to the rafters by the Pistons,” Blaha said, “his son said to some of us, ‘No matter how much you think this means to my Dad, it means even more.’ Jack was an emotional guy in his own way, and truly appreciated the fact the Pistons appreciated him.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: ICYMI, Stephen Curry debuted his new shoe during Game 1 of The Finals … Great way to soak in everything that happened in Game 1 of The Finals … The Hang Time Podcast crew gathered for a quick, postgame breakdown of Game 1 … Advertisements on the Detroit Pistons’ jerseys are ‘in the works’ … Great story about Miami Heat star Hassan Whiteside buying a house for his mom …