The Golden State Warriors find themselves in a familiar position in these NBA Finals. They now face a 2-1 deficit following Wednesday night’s Game 3 116-100 loss. The scariest part of the game for Warriors fans happened in the fourth quarter when Curry suffered an injured foot diving for a loose ball that ended with Boston’s Al Horford flopping on top of him. Curry says he will play in Game 4, but if he’s hobbled in the slightest way by that foot, it’ll probably be time to pack up and head for Cancun.
One good thing for the Warriors in game 3 is that Curry and Klay Thompson began to look like the Splash Brothers. Games 1 and 2 were rough for Thompson, and that trend looked like it would continue in the first quarter of game 3. Klay finally got his shot to fall, making five threes in the game and scoring 25 points. Curry led all scorers with 31, and Andrew Wiggins added a quiet 18 but was just 1 of 6 from three-point range.
Aside from Wiggins, Curry and Thompson didn’t get much help from their supporting cast. This makes Curry’s foot injury even more troubling. You never want your best player to miss time in the Finals, but they cannot afford to lose Curry for even a quarter, based on the way Golden State has played through three games. If he can’t go in game 4, you might as well shut it down. Hang up the “gone fishing” sign and call it.
Curry’s been the most consistent player by far for Golden State in this series against Boston. And he’s really been the only consistent Warrior through all three games played thus far. Not only is Steph scoring like we’re used to seeing, but he’s doing it efficiently, especially from three-point land. That’s been the knock on Curry in past Finals appearances. The narrative is that he shrinks in the spotlight. Well, he’s showing up in this series, but he can’t seem to get anyone else to tag along.
This is the second foot injury Curry’s suffered against the Celtics since March. The play in March was also a loose ball, but Marcus Smart delivered the blow that sidelined Curry for the rest of the regular season. In-game three, it was Horford. I won’t claim to know Horford or Smart’s intentions, but how many times can you commit an act against the same player before eyebrows are raised?
Boston is the more physical of these teams. We knew that coming in. They’ve proven to be bigger, stronger, and more athletic than Golden State through three games. The Warriors will need to find a way to become more athletic in the middle of a series, which is tough. It’s time for Steve Kerr to adjust as he did during the 2015 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavs by inserting Andre Iguodala.
This time Kerr might be calling Jonothan Kuminga’s number to step up. Possibly even Moses Moody or both. These two young athletic wings have shown flashes of what they can be to this Warriors team. The problem is that they are very young and inexperienced. But sometimes that can be the answer because they just don’t know, therefore relieving some pressure. Just go out there and play.
Any adjustment Kerr and his coaching staff are pondering can’t wait regardless of what Curry’s diagnosis may be. That big adjustment has to happen in game 4; otherwise, we may be looking at a short series, which I never expected, no matter who won. But maybe Kerr doesn’t have another ace up his sleeve. The potential adjustment on the table could be moot if Curry can’t go or is only a fraction of himself in game 4.
Golden State was down 2-1 against LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2015 Finals. They were in a 3-1 hole against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the OKC Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. So, the core group of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green have been here before. Iguodala was also part of those teams that came back to win both series. It might take a miracle or two this time to pull off a comeback.