Cavaliers coach David Blatt’s attempt to call timeout near the end of Game 4 when Cleveland had none remaining has been scrutinized.
He also took heat after LeBron James revealed Blatt initially had the four-time MVP inbounding the ball on a last-second play, only for James to scratch the coach's play in favor of the isolation on Jimmy Butler that resulted in the game-winning buzzer-beater.
Leading up to Thursday's Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls, the head coach and superstar have denied there is a rift between them. Shaquille O'Neal, a former teammate of James' with the Cavaliers in 2010 and current TNT NBA analyst, echoed that sentiment.
“There’s no conflict. Every great player in the game in the game has had that conversation with a coach,” O’Neal told SI.com during a promotional interview for the video game Mortal Kombat X. “I remember Chuck Daly was drawing up a play, and Isiah [Thomas] said, ‘Coach, listen. I need to take this last shot. If I hit it, we win, if I miss, we’re going to overtime.’ That’s what great players do. You want them to do that, you want a guy to take that last shot with confidence and make it, if not, it’s going to be a long night. Every great player has done it.
“There’s nothing to do about guy’s being disrespected. LeBron’s the general. The general makes all the decisions. Sometimes he knows stuff and sometimes he doesn’t. I played with LeBron, Dwyane and Kobe, they’re all like that. They’re all guys that are going to step up and want to take that last shot. They all have a championship-winning attitude, and that’s why they all have championships. They all want to take that last shot, and they all want to live in the big moments and they’re all comfortable with the results either way.”
On Monday, James said his relationship with Blatt “grows every day,” comparing his interactions with the coach to his marriage.
Blatt has repeatedly refuted any claim he and James are on different pages.
"Again, he didn't veto the play," Blatt told reporters on Monday. "He just felt strongly about what a better situation would be. As it turned out that was the right thing. It could have been the right thing the other way, too.
"It's not the story," Blatt said. "We won the game."