OAKLAND — When word came down from the NBA late Friday night that Tristan Thompson only would receive a $25,000 fine for his aggressive actions at the end of Game 1, the Cavaliers center admitted he was grateful not to be suspended for Game 2.
His reaction in the final seconds of an overtime loss to the Warriors demonstrated the frustration Thompson and all the Cavaliers felt about a game they were close to winning in regulation. When the Warriors’ Shaun Livingston took a shot in the final seconds with an eight-point lead instead of letting the shot clock run out for a turnover, Thompson was incensed.
He ran at Livingston to contest the shot and was ejected for a flagrant foul because he appeared to flare his right elbow out in the area of Livingston’s head. Reacting to taunting from the Warriors’ Draymond Green after the ejection, Thompson then shoved the ball in Green’s face, an action that put him in danger of suspension.
Instead, Thompson will play Game 2 Sunday night at Oracle Arena. “Happy I’m able to play,” Thompson said at Saturday’s media session. “The NBA has to do what they’ve got to do in terms of fining. I want to be out there with my teammates, and I’ll be able to do that in Game 2.
“People said [a suspension] was a possibility. I did what I had to do in terms of speaking to the NBA, but they made the right call by letting me play.”
Despite appearances, Thompson said Green’s trash talk doesn’t bother him. “He’s making himself look crazy, but that’s what he does,” Thompson said. “That’s what makes him valuable to the Warriors in terms of bringing toughness and that grit. I don’t blame him. Every team needs a guy like that.
“It’s the Finals. It’s about toughness. You’ve got to be able to play hard, and I think that’s what I bring to my team. As that enforcer for our team and Draymond for his team, I think it is what it is. If it had to be two guys that do get into that scuffle, it would be us two.”
Thompson admitted that after playing four straight Finals against each other, “You start not liking each other.”
But Thompson apparently hasn’t seen the Warriors enough to know they shoot with a lead at the end of games rather than take a shot clock turnover. That set everything off, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr defended his approach.
“If there’s a shot-clock differential, then we’re going to take the shot,” Kerr said. “Simple as that. That’s not offending anybody. I guess Tristan felt that was offensive. I don’t. If there’s no shot clock on, we’re going to dribble it out.
“If there’s time left on the clock, we’re not going to dunk it, but we’re not doing anything fancy. Shaun takes his 15-footer. The ball either goes in or it doesn’t, and the game is going to end. But we never would take a turnover. That would be stupid.”