Stephen Curry was angry about several fouls that were called against him throughout the game six against Cavaliers. (USA Today Sports)
Stephen Curry knows that the record-setting 73 wins, awards and memorable moments that highlighted Golden State’s special season will only be footnotes if the Warriors can’t quickly find their missing game.
The 3-pointers have stopped falling, the swagger has gone missing and the defense has had no answers for LeBron James. After two straight losses that have forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, the Warriors are one game away from either capping the most successful season in NBA history or the greatest Finals collapse.
“You just don’t see kind of that rhythm and that flow and just the energy that we play with the offensive end,” Curry said Saturday. “Obviously, we lost Game 5 and 6, not so much because we missed open shots, but also because of our defensive breakdowns. So it’s kind of you can look at and nitpick both sides. But at the end of the day, I don’t know why we haven’t been ourselves. … The only thing that matters is we have one game left to figure it out.”
The Warriors couldn’t do it in Game 5 at home last Monday when do-everything forward Draymond Green was sidelined by a suspension. A second chance in Cleveland on Thursday night also ended up in a loss with rim-protecting center Andrew Bogut out after suffering a season-ending knee injury the previous game and defensive stopper Andre Iguodala dealing with a balky back that limited his effectiveness. Iguodala is planning to play Game 7.
The frustration boiled over with Curry’s ejection for throwing his mouthpiece at a fan after fouling out and coach Steve Kerr’s $25,000 fine for criticizing officials. Even Curry’s wife, Ayesha, got into it with a Tweet accusing the NBA of rigging the Finals, prompting Curry quip, “I might have to cut the Wi-Fi off at my house.”
But it will be no joking matter if the Warriors become the first team to lose the NBA Finals after taking a 3-1 series lead, which is one historical mark the Warriors are looking to avoid in a season full of records led by the 73 wins.
“When you go from up 3-1 to 3-3, it’s disappointing,” Kerr said. “But you get a couple of days, you kind of take stock. You think about where we are. We like our positioning. We like our chances. And we’re at home with a chance to win the championship. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
But the Cavaliers come into the game with James. The player known as King James since he was a high-school megastar in Akron, Ohio, has almost single-handedly moved the Cavaliers to the brink of winning the first championship in success-starved Cleveland since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964.
James has almost single-handedly brought the Cavaliers to the verge of a title, using back-to-back 41-point games to stave off elimination and force this decisive final game. He has 24 rebounds, 18 assists, seven 3-pointers, six blocks and just three turnovers in the past two games and leads the series in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
“I start to learn from my mistakes and break into the film and seeing the ways that they’re defending me, the ways they’re defending our team, ways I can be a little more efficient,” James said. “I’ve gotten better as the series has gone on.”