June 04, 2018
OAKLAND — There was a time not so long ago when Steph Curry did this on a regular basis.
Steph Currys historic NBA Finals Game 2 a window to Warriors before Kevin Durant
Nine three-pointers in one game? He did it seven times alone in that 2015-16 regular season in which he was the league’s first unanimous MVP, with the other 400-plus players in the NBA combining to do it just eight.
That’s how transcendent Curry was before Kevin Durant came to town, and that’s why his record-breaking three-point outing in Golden State’s 122-103 win in Game 2 of the Finals against Cleveland was such a positive sign for the defending champs.
When Curry drove the welcome wagon for Durant during that free agency visit in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016, he said goodbye to those days in which he was side-by-side with LeBron James in the conversation about who was the best player in the game. Durant’s skillset would have an inevitable impact on the way the Warriors played, with Curry sharing the spotlight in the name of sustained success and a good, old-fashioned talent overload.
But Game 1 of these Finals seemed to highlight the potential problems of that scenario, as Durant was average in a way that simply shouldn’t happen when he steps on a basketball floor. He didn’t play with force against James, whose 51-point outing came mostly against Durant as Golden State came so close to falling behind at the start. He didn’t dominate offensively, missing 14 of 22 shots while Curry took the early Finals MVP lead.
OAKLAND — There was a time not so long ago when Steph Curry did this on a regular basis.
Nine three-pointers in one game? He did it seven times alone in that 2015-16 regular season in which he was the league’s first unanimous MVP, with the other 400-plus players in the NBA combining to do it just eight.
That’s how transcendent Curry was before Kevin Durant came to town, and that’s why his record-breaking three-point outing in Golden State’s 122-103 win in Game 2 of the Finals against Cleveland was such a positive sign for the defending champs.
When Curry drove the welcome wagon for Durant during that free agency visit in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016, he said goodbye to those days in which he was side-by-side with LeBron James in the conversation about who was the best player in the game. Durant’s skillset would have an inevitable impact on the way the Warriors played, with Curry sharing the spotlight in the name of sustained success and a good, old-fashioned talent overload.
But Game 1 of these Finals seemed to highlight the potential problems of that scenario, as Durant was average in a way that simply shouldn’t happen when he steps on a basketball floor. He didn’t play with force against James, whose 51-point outing came mostly against Durant as Golden State came so close to falling behind at the start. He didn’t dominate offensively, missing 14 of 22 shots while Curry took the early Finals MVP lead.
Curry shared his news conference with Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green had one of his own. Durant spoke with reporters in the locker room and was available in the hallways afterward before making an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Countdown. But by and large, it was a clock-in-clock-out kind of existence.
Still, it spoke volumes that Durant responded to his Game 1 struggles by having such a significant presence.
“You could tell from the jump he was locked in,” Green told USA TODAY Sports. “The last couple days, you could just see him locked in, see how much he was focused coming out. One thing that stood out to me was his activity on the defensive end to start the game. When he’s like that, the offense will come. He’s probably one of the greatest scorers, if not the greatest scorer, we’ve ever seen. But when he’s locked in on the defensive end, I know it’s coming.”
Meanwhile, Curry had left the Oracle Arena crowd buzzing like he only he can.
Of all the breathtaking shots that he buried, the one that put the Warriors up 14 with 7:51 to go was the most absurd of them all. Kevin Love was chasing Curry on the left wing, trying to keep up as the shot clock neared its end. But Curry heaved the ball like a shotput, found the net that so often makes him smile, and all of a sudden it was a flashback to that pre-Durant time when this was the norm.
The night was his, but it wasn’t his alone. And that, for the sake of Golden State’s long-term sustainability, was worth noticing.
“At the end of the day, it's all about trying to get a win and doing whatever you can to make that happen,” Curry said when asked about the record, which was previously held by Ray Allen from the 2010 Finals (Boston against Lakers in Game 2). “I always say like if we focus on that, good things happen individually all across the board. So I never woke up and was like, all right, let's go get nine threes and get the record. It was more so about playing the game the right way, having good intentions out there on the court and good things happen.”
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