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Saturday Sports: Cleveland Cavaliers Take A Win Against Warriors


I wait all week to say time for sports.


SIMON: Record-setting night for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They hit 24 3-pointers - 86 points in just the first half - to defeat the Golden State Warriors 137-116. Cleveland is now in the strategic position. All they have to do is win three more games - straight games - to submit their second NBA Championship. Of course, the Warriors have to win just one.

Jeh Jeh Pruitt of WBRC FOX6 here in Birmingham joins us onstage Thanks so much for being with us, Jeh Jeh.

JEH JEH PRUITT: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Cavs were on fire last night, weren't they?

PRUITT: It was probably the single most impressive playoff game in the history of basketball, an unbelievable game.

SIMON: I knew I would love you. But go ahead, yes.


PRUITT: No. I mean, you talked about record-setting night - you know, 24 3-pointers, as you said. The Cavaliers scored 49 points in the first period.

SIMON: Yeah.

PRUITT: First period - 86 points at halftime. Who does that? I mean, who does that?

SIMON: Yeah - LeBron James team...

PRUITT: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...With Kyrie Irving. Obviously, they have to win three more.


SIMON: That's going to be more difficult, right?

PRUITT: It is going to be very difficult for the Cavs to hit 24 3-pointers when they go back to Oakland. It is going to be difficult because the Warriors team is better than they were last year.

SIMON: Yeah, if you can imagine - because they added Kevin Durant. What sort of adjustments do you think the Warriors make looking forward to the next game?

PRUITT: Well they've got to get Stephen Curry back in the game a little bit. Stephen...

SIMON: He had just - was it 9 points last night?

PRUITT: Yes. He didn't score a single point in the first half, other than two free throws. So that's - you know, the Warriors are not going to win if Stephen Curry doesn't score any points in the first half.

SIMON: Tempers seemed short last night, which puzzled me. These are the two premier franchises in the NBA. Steph Curry even seemed a little upset, and he's, like, the nicest guy in the world.

PRUITT: Well, I'm not going to - I'm not on the NBA, so I won't get fined for talking about the referees.

SIMON: Oh, yes. Yes.

PRUITT: But that, to me, was one of the single most horrific refereed games last night. I'm not saying that because I'm a Warriors fan or anything. But, you know, it was too one-sided for me. I think that the Cavs - they...

SIMON: Having been surrounded by 20,000 screaming Clevelanders...

PRUITT: Right (laughter).

SIMON: ...You think the referees - yeah.

PRUITT: Now, I'm not taking anything away from the Cavs because the Cavs...

SIMON: Yeah.

PRUITT: ...Did their job. But, you know, the Cavs - they had to win. They were going to do everything they could to win, and they did. You know, so I don't want to take any credit away from the Cavs. They did what they were supposed to do. But it was pretty interesting to watch the refs do - I mean, you had seven players with technical fouls. You know, Draymond Green supposedly was supposed to be...

SIMON: Yeah.

PRUITT: ...Out of Game 5 and got in the game. But they actually called one of the technicals on Steve Kerr. So, as you mentioned, you know, the referees - they weren't playing last night.

SIMON: Yeah. I understand they play football here in Alabama.

PRUITT: Oh, yeah.


PRUITT: A little bit.

SIMON: Tell me a little bit how things look for the Crimson Tide. We're in the middle of offseason.

PRUITT: Well, you know, for all of you Alabama fans, they are preseason No. 1 again. They are looking pretty good. Nick Saban, you know...


PRUITT: Yeah (laughter). Nick Saban doesn't - you know, he doesn't recruit. He just reloads.


PRUITT: You know, he is - he's got - his third-stringers can be starters for anybody else. That's his secret, and they're going to be looking pretty good this year.

SIMON: Yeah. There's another team that plays locally, too, isn't there?

PRUITT: Yeah, the Auburn Tigers (laughter).


SIMON: Yes, I know. All right. I was giving you a chance to say that, OK? Yes.

PRUITT: (Laughter).

SIMON: How do things look for Auburn?

PRUITT: Well, you know, things are looking good for Auburn. They are probably going to do better than they did last year. Auburn had a really good run last year until the very - until their quarterback got hurt. And, of course, they didn't - they couldn't adjust to it. They actually won, like, eight games in a row until the very last end.

And so Gus Malzahn has got to find a way to beat Alabama. But he's also got to find a way to kind of make sure that everything is going well for the Tigers. You know, the Tigers - they'll be good for a second. And then they'll lose a very important game. So they can't do that if they're going to compete with Alabama.

SIMON: I'm sorry to end on this time with a serious question. But the concern about concussion that's in professional football - enough concern about it in college?

PRUITT: Yes. Yes, because they're doing everything they can. In fact, Dr. James Andrews Larry Lemak, one of the top - I guess the two orthopedic surgeons here not only in Alabama but in the world. Those two guys - they've actually done a lot of things, you know, with starting - with talking about it.

They've actually talked to a lot of NFL and college players. I think there should be - and I think there is a lot of concussion - a lot of people who are actually trying to talk about concussions because, as you know, I played football in college.

SIMON: Yeah.

PRUITT: I had a few concussions. I was never treated for it. And that's probably the reason why I stumble my words sometimes - because (laughter)...

SIMON: No, no, no. No, you never do. Jeh Jeh Pruitt, thanks so much for being with us.

PRUITT: Thank you for having me.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.