Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry promises more aggressive play in Monday’s fifth game of the NBA Finals after being kept to half his playoff scoring average.
The Golden State sharpshooter went 4-of-13 from the floor for only 14 points as the Warriors lost 137-116 at Cleveland in game four, still leaving Curry and his teammates ahead 3-1 in the best-of-seven title series.
“When I have the ball in my hands, I’ve just got to be a little bit more aggressive than I was in game four, try to get in the paint, make plays, and not let them try to take me out of it,” Curry said.
The Cavaliers would sometimes double-team Curry to ensure he found no rhythm while still containing Warriors star forward Kevin Durant and guard Klay Thompson.
“He’s dangerous so we just wanted to limit his shots, take the ball out of his hands,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We did a good job of that in game four. We have to try to do it again.”
Much of the work on that will fall to Cavs guard Kyrie Irving.
“It was definitely a conscious effort on my end to make sure that we limited Steph and Klay to just some tough shots,” Irving said.
“They’re some special players, and they make some unbelievable plays. But you just have keep a body on them as much as possible and try to make their shots a little bit more difficult. We did a good job of that. Hopefully we can do that going forward.”
Curry’s heroics in finals matchups against Cleveland the past two years have taught some valuable lessons.
“He does a great job of just affecting the game on both ends of the floor so you just try to keep a body on him, understanding that he can get hot in a matter of a second,” Irving said.
– ‘Make it tough on him’ –
Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James said keeping Curry from a breakout game is imperative for the Cavs to have any chance at making the first comeback from a 3-0 deficit in NBA playoff history.
“Our key is to limit certain guys,” James said. “You can’t take away everything from great players and Steph is one of those players. Just try to make it tough on him. He’s going to make shots. He’s going to make plays not only for himself but for his teammates. Just try to make it tough on him and you can live with the results.”
Bringing defensive help against Curry leaves someone else open for a pass and scoring opportunity, Durant warned.
“We got two on the ball, that means that somebody’s open,” Durant said. “Steph was doing a good job of taking on that double team and trying to find a pass and we just tried to make plays after that.”
Lue says the Cavaliers have few options.
“When he’s open, he’s going to make shots,” Lue said. “And when he’s playing free and you don’t bring physicality, he’s able to roam and do whatever he wants offensively. He’s one of the most dangerous guys in our league.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said falling behind decisively early made it tough to free up shots for Curry.
“They did a good job on him,” Kerr said. “Hardest thing is playing from behind. There are some things we can do to free him up and we’ll try that.”
Curry would love to celebrate the title in front of home supporters by winning Monday.
“It would be a great night to get it done,” Curry said. “We just got to play with more force, energy and just lock in defensively.”
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