Curry splashes Finals record nine 3’s, Dubs up 2-0
He doesn’t just own the record after hitting nine in a 33-point eruption Sunday, he and the Warriors now own a 2-0 NBA Finals series lead after dumping the Cavaliers 122-103 in Game 2.
Curry had 16 at half despite starting the game just 1-of-5 from deep. He heated up to temperatures rarely seen by human eyes, finishing the game 9-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Draymond Green said the decisions are pretty simple when Curry has it going like that:
“Number one, whether you got the ball or not, get out of the way. And if he gives you the ball, make sure you give it back. It’s hard to be the guy in that situation trying to shoot the ball and he’s got it going like that, it’s a big letdown.”
Through the first two games of the Finals Curry is averaging 31 points, 6.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from deep.
When he focuses on the larger picture, individual goals just seem to manifest Curry said:
“It’s all about trying to get a win. … I always say, if we focus on that, good things happen individually all across the board. So I never wake up and was like let’s get nine 3’s and get the record. It was more about playing the game the right way, having good intentions out there on the court and good things will happen.”
He’s been incendiary while sometimes taking a backseat to Kevin Durant’s iso scoring. But the fast-breaking, ball-moving team of the regular season and 2017 made a return to Oracle Sunday.
Durant returned to his ultra-efficient self, shooting 10-of-14 for 26 points, just a game after forcing the issue and shooting 8-of-22. He also played his best all-around game in weeks with nine rebounds, seven assists and two blocks, while stepping up his defense on LeBron James.
The Warriors as a whole looked more engaged to start on defense, but especially Durant. He picked up James full court and made him work to get his buckets. James finished with 29 points still but looked noticeably tired and took just 20 shots.
Curry said after watching the film from Game 1 they knew they needed to come out with more aggression:
“Obviously, from Game 1, LeBron had an amazing night. But a lot of it was just a lack of sense of urgency early in possessions to try and just be physical. Klay, Draymond and KD especially were huge in that transformation to Game 2 with just putting up a little bit of resistance, and just trying to make them work. … The energy and effort and physicality and all that from the jump was pretty dialed in and it gave us a lot of momentum and confidence.”
The Warriors forced James to rely on his teammates with some early doubles and gave him few easy driving lanes. And guys like J.R. Smith and Jordan Clarkson were all too happy to oblige by isoing whenever they touched the ball. James had 13 assists while the rest of his team had just 12 combined.
Steve Kerr said they had to try to take James out of his comfort zone:
“He was very comfortable in Game 1. I thought we at least made him somewhat uncomfortable at times. I mean, just, you’ve got to do your best. You’ve got to pressure him. You’ve got to know he’s going to end up with 30 points and a triple-double and all that stuff because he’s that good. But we just made things a little more difficult for him tonight.”
Green was the orchestrator as always, pointing assignments, while rotating over to meet James and the other Cavs at the rim. He also broke out the hard double on every Tristan Thompson catch, which made the big man have to make decisions he’s not used to or comfortable making.
The Warriors were so much more energized off the bat, they weren’t even able to ramp up their play for their usual third quarter run. They actually lost the third quarter 34-31, and while their play did slip a bit in that quarter, it was more a product of their elevated effort to start.
Kerr inserted JaVale McGee into the starting lineup and just as he always does, brought the energy from the jump. That energy can manifest itself in both positive and negative ways, but it definitely helped the Warriors’ start as he scored the first two baskets of the game. He would finish with 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and so far the only miss this series has been his botched dunk.
The Warriors also got a lift from Shaun Livingston who was the second Warrior off the bench Sunday. He also was perfect from the field going 5-of-5 and scoring 10 points for the second straight game. In fact, Livingston hasn’t missed a single shot in the series as he’s 9-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line so far, and has played a huge part in both Warriors’ victories.
His play is doubly important with Andre Iguodala missing the first two games and still doubtful on when or if he can return to the court. Livingston can and should, slide into Iguodala’s role in the closing lineup alongside the four all-stars but Kerr seems reluctant to use it. The one time he did was in overtime of Game 1 when they blew the doors off the Cavs.
Klay Thompson buoyed the Warriors during the third with 10 of his 20 points coming in that frame and he looked nimble after having a noticeable limp before the game.
Green said he was shocked that Thompson was able to play at all after seeing him at practice:
“I thought there was no chance he was playing tonight. I mean I saw him walking in yesterday and saw his ankle and I was like, yeah, there’s no chance he’s playing. … I even texted Nick Young yesterday like, ‘hey man, I need big minutes out of you tomorrow because Klay ain’t playing.’ Sure enough he did. That’s just a microcosm of who he is, one of the toughest guys, if not the toughest guy I’ve ever played with.”
It’s clear that he isn’t at 100 percent as Curry took over guarding George Hill but if they can get this kind of production from him, whatever percentage he’s at is good enough.
It also helps when Curry is hitting unconscious looks like this one:
OH NO HE DIDN'T!!!
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 4, 2018
When he’s hitting shots like that it’s easy to envision his next thing to own — a Finals MVP
The series now shifts to Cleveland where the Warriors are 5-3 over the last four seasons. Golden State looks to take a commanding lead in the series when they return to the court for Game 3 Wednesday.
Klay Thomson hit three 3’s and is just the second Warriors player in franchise history to make 300 career postseason 3’s, joining Curry. He’s also just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that mark… David West hit a big 3 to ice the game late in the fourth and that was the big man’s first triple since November 4th. It was just his eighth career playoff 3 in 115 career playoff games.