Notes from Today’s Turner Sports 2016 NBA Conference Finals Media Conference Call

TNT, in its 32nd consecutive year of NBA coverage, is the exclusive TV home of the 2016 NBA Western Conference Finals - the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and two-time reigning Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook - continuing with Game 2 tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, at 9 p.m. ET. Marv Albert will call tomorrow night’s game along with analyst Reggie Miller and reporters Craig Sager and David Aldridge.

TNT’s Sports Emmy® Award winning NBA Playoffs coverage will open with a one-hour NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader on-site pre-game show from Oakland or Oklahoma City for each game, with host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The studio team will also provide halftime coverage and a recap of each night’s action with TNT’s Inside the NBA presented by Kia postgame show.

At the conclusion of Inside the NBA following Games 2-4 of the Western Conference Finals, TNT will air The Dunk King, an all-new reality competition series featuring the top amateur dunkers from around the globe. The contestants take center stage to showcase their best dunks for a chance at a $100,000 prize and the distinction of being named “Dunk King.” Terrence J and Smith host the show with judges including NBA on TNT analysts Barkley, O’Neal and Brent Barry.

Earlier today, Miller shared his insight on the 2015-16 NBA Conference Finals:

Miller on the Warriors getting away from their strengths in Game 1: “The Warriors played out of character [last night].  What they’re known for, the brilliant three-point shooting, shooting in general, the passing and ball movement and man movement without the ball, that separates them and San Antonio [from the rest of the league].  We didn’t see a lot of that in the second half [last night], especially in the third and early in the fourth quarters… They took too many quick shots… It’s so valuable when you’ve got four or five guys on the floor that can pass, move and cut without the ball and make plays.  [Not relying on those strengths] played into the hands of the Thunder a little bit.”

Miller on Golden State’s small lineup vs. Oklahoma City’s big lineup: “I thought it was pretty much a wash.  Small ball had its moments for Golden State, as did the big lineup for the Thunder.  The big question mark is the so called ‘Death Lineup’ - how would it match up with the ‘King Kong’ big lineup of the Thunder? Both teams, at stretches, had their moments.  OKC rebounded and got extra possessions with their big front court.  There were a few times the small lineup [of Golden State] turned over that big lineup and got out in transition.  [The Warriors did] not use Mo Speights enough, I look for him to be a little bit more effective and have more minutes in Game 2.  For the most part, I thought both lineups played particularly well in their spots.”

Miller on Thunder rookie head coach Billy Donovan and walking into a high pressure situation: “To be a rookie head coach and to inherit two studs in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a young team that’s on the verge of becoming great.  His out-of-timeout plays and in-game strategy have been great, along the same lines of Steve Kerr last year.  Kerr was the blueprint, he showed you don’t need five, 10, 15, 20 years of experience to be successful.  If you surround yourself with good coaches and players committed to winning and committed to one another and that are selfless and want to make those around them better, you can be successful.”

Miller on what he expects in the Eastern Conference Finals: “Right now, Cleveland is locked and loaded behind the three-point line.  I love what Tyronn Lue has done since taking over for [David] Blatt - he’s defined roles.  He had individual meetings behind closed doors to tell everyone what’s expected and it shows in how they play.  Kevin Love’s role has become more defined and he’s more involved in the offense.  LeBron James has been a headache [for the opposing team], he does so much by being able to get into the paint and collapse the defense.  There’s a reason [Channing] Frye, [Kevin] Love, [Iman] Shumpert and [Kyrie] Irving are getting wide open threes in the corners - because so much attention surrounds LeBron.  [Toronto is] going to have to come up with a game plan for LeBron James and the three-point shooting… If LeBron stays healthy, I would not be surprised if [it’s a sweep by the Cavs].”

Miller on the Cavs’ ability to close teams out late in games: “The most devastating thing the Cavs have done in the postseason is that they’ve been the best fourth quarter defensive team… It may be close, but for whatever reason, it clicks in the fourth and they stretch that lead out.  They make shots and stop you at the other end… If you were to re-seed the Playoffs, the Cavs would be the No. 1 team.”

Miller on Russell Westbrook: “I’ve always loved Westbrook as a player because he’s a guy that has one mode – to continually be aggressive and come at you and be in attack mode.  That works for him and the Thunder – having two guys in that mode in him and [Kevin] Durant.”

Miller on any similarities in Stephen Curry’s game compared to Miller’s: “The fearlessness and the belief that you can make and take any shot.  I felt once I crossed half court, I was a live option and I felt that way all the way back to high school.  He has that belief that anywhere on the court, he’s a threat.  Teams adjust and play him that way.  He does so many things I wish I could have done, especially the ball handling… Just being a threat as soon as you cross half court is probably the biggest similarity.”

Miller on the Pacers’ coaching change: “We don’t know the inner workings of what has gone on behind the scenes.  Only time will tell, and I think people are scratching heads because of comments from Larry [Bird]… People are assuming that a brand new coach is coming in [from the outside] to be a brand new voice and the offense has to be more efficient.  When you hire Nate McMillan, who was a defensive player and coach, that’s why people are thinking that’s not a new voice and how will that help the offense?  Maybe this is the voice that Paul George and Monta Ellis and Myles Turner need to hear.  I think this is a solid hire, a guy that’s been there the last three years and I think there will be a change in offense.”

Miller on Curry’s preparation and development: “It’s going to take some failure to build up the strength to feel you can make those shots… You will have moments where you get knocked down and don’t hit game winners but that builds strength.  He puts so much time in his preparation… he’s seen that moment before and played it out [in his head]… He’s put himself in those moments and it’s beautiful to watch.”

Miller on Curry’s ascent into a superstar: “Sometimes it gets lonely being in the gym by yourself but that’s how you become good and great – by working when everyone else is sleeping… I think that’s what Steph does, he’s working on his craft when guys are doing other things.”

Miller on Klay Thompson’s playoff performance: “Klay’s been fantastic… When [he] came in to the league, he was a catch-and-shoot type player, but his lane game and in getting to the rack, he’s become a fantastic part of that one-two punch in that backcourt.”

Miller on what goes in to making a championship run: “LeBron has the chance to go to six straight NBA Finals.  I don’t care who you are, it is so hard…  You need to have talent to win but there’s so much luck involved with winning a championship, including being healthy and staying healthy.”

Miller on Toronto’s chances of avoiding a sweep: “If there is a game for them to get, it would be tonight because of the layoff [for Cleveland].  The Cavs were off for eight days before Game 1 vs. Atlanta and are in the same boat tonight. Game 1 is very winnable if [the Raptors] approach it the right way.”