Hill found himself reliving a missed free throw at the end of regulation that would have given the Cavs a one-point lead.
“I stayed up most of the night rewatching the free throw, rewatching the play,” Hill said during a conference call on Friday. “Just going over it in my head, what I think went wrong.”
The missed free throw was just one moment in a series of crises for the Cavaliers on Thursday night. Just before the missed free throw, there were the the referees changing a Kevin Durant charge call to a LeBron James block with 36.4 seconds remaining. Just after the missed free throw, there was J.R. Smith corralling the offensive rebound, and inexplicably dribbling out the clock with the game still tied.
Facing all of that in the final minute, it’s not terribly surprising the Cavs went on to get outscored 17-7 in the overtime period.
That’s to say nothing of the fact that James put together an all-time great playoff performance, and the Cavs still took an “L.” He set a new playoff-career-high with 51 points, also grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out eight assists. He’s the sixth player in NBA history to score 50 points in a Finals game, and the first ever to do so and have his team lose.
Hill called the loss “probably number one” when asked how it ranks in all the losses throughout his career.
“This one hurt,” he said. “This one hurt bad with a lot of things that went on.”
But still, despite all of the ugliness they endured down the stretch on Thursday night, the Cavs are insistent that they are not damaged goods for the remainder of the series.
“Listen, we’re not broken all right,” head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters in a conference call. “We lost a game, you gotta win four in this series, we understand that. And it was a tough game for us. We played well enough to win, but we didn’t, so now we’ve gotta move on. The guys’ confidence is not shaken.”
Lue also said that the team was planning on going to dinner together on Friday night. Hill, like Lue, insisted that the team wasn’t coming apart at the seams.
“As a player, competitive guy, put in a situation to help my team win a game, and I didn’t come through,” he said. “So for me, it sucked. It was one of the worst feelings ever. But I have great teammates who have been in my ear, even last night and this morning, telling me to forget about it, continue to just focus on the next game and don’t let it linger.”
He too, scoffed when a reporter suggested the loss could be demoralizing for the Cavs going into the rest of the series.
“I think all the guys in the locker room want to win and think that we can win,” Hill said. “I don’t think any of us are demoralized. I think maybe you guys have us more demoralized than we have ourselves.”