Warriors must show 'appropriate fear' in Game 5, prove they can take a punch

Warriors must show 'appropriate fear' in Game 5, prove they can take a punch

OAKLAND -- Can the Golden State Warriors take a punch? That is the question of the night as the Cavaliers walk into Oracle Arena looking to stave off elimination once again and shift the momentum of the series back to Cleveland.

Everyone should know the history here. After leading 3-1 in the Finals a season ago, the Warriors stumbled down the stretch and lost to this same Cavs team in Game 7.

Golden State took a 3-0 lead in the series this season, but the Cavs put on a show of physicality and marksmanship on Friday evening, taking Game 4 and setting up an eerily similar situation Monday night in Oakland.

“For us as a team tonight, we’ve got to be more on edge, I hope we’re a little more nervous,” Steve Kerr said during his pregame media scrum. “We didn’t seem that nervous in Game 4. Nervous is good. Appropriate fear is the Gregg Popovich line. We need that.”

Maybe it was the fact that the Warriors had posted a perfect 15-0 record heading into Game 4. They had a swagger and the Cavs quickly took it away.

Cleveland hit the Warriors early and often, scoring an incredible 49 points in the first quarter on their way to a 86-68 lead at the intermission. The final tally was a 21-point drubbing and a glimmer of hope for the Cavs.

The Cavs set the tone for how the game was going to be played. After watching the Warriors run circles around them in the first three games of the series, it Cleveland’s strength that stood out. They pushed Golden State all over the court, which they will attempt to do again in Game 5.

“We didn’t deserve a lot of calls the other night,” Kerr said. “They were the aggressor. Every time, in my experience in the Finals, when you have one team that’s much more aggressive than the other, things tend to go their way. Cleveland earned everything.”

The Cavs opened a door just a crack and will try to push their way back into the series in front of the Warriors home crowd. Maybe it was the wake up call that the Warriors needed. They’ll have to show that they can take a huge shot to the jaw and bounce off the canvas. If not, this series could get interesting very quickly.

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.