The Golden State Warriors are still in good shape. They lead the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-1 in the NBA Finals and, at worst, still have two home games in their back pocket.
So there’s no reason to panic.
And yet, some degree of dread has to be seeping into the minds of Warriors fans. That’s because Steph Curry is averaging just 16.0 points and 5.0 turnovers in the Finals.
“My main concern for the Warriors is what has happened to Stephen Curry?” Warriors TV analyst Jim Barnett said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We all love him, but last night, it was almost as if he wasn’t even present. He seemed distant and he seems like he was in a trance. He did things even defensively (that made you scratch your head). He was doing things that a high school kid who hadn’t been taught yet how to play defense (would do). It just wasn’t like him. I’ve always felt the superstars, you will not accept someone stopping you. You have got to be mentally tough, physically (tough) – whatever it takes. Cleveland did a great job because they didn’t do a lot of switching (in Game 3). Kyrie stayed with him and they fought through the screens and it was more singular defense, which I think is always better. I think the NBA bails out too often and they get these switches (and have big men guarding guards). So that didn’t happen as frequently.”
Curry, however, shot just 3-of-9 from three-point range. Klay Thompson shot 1-of-7 and is averaging just 12 points in the Finals.
Scott Ferrall doesn’t know what to make of it. Is it possible that Golden State’s two sharpshooters are feeling the effects of their seven-game series with the Thunder?
“Well, it should have helped them,” Barnett said. “I don’t quite get it. Oklahoma City’s defense was smothering at first. They got blown out in Games 3 and 4. We can pick all this apart and I can’t put a finger on it. Klay’s there. He just wasn’t hitting (in Game 3). He got into the groove a little bit later on, but I expect him to have a big game here. He’s had a great playoffs this year. He was averaging 24, 25 points a game coming into this Finals series. He didn’t play well in the Finals last year and he knows that. He’s real hard on himself. But I believe in him. I just think that you’ve got to meet that kind of defensive pressure on you and you’ve got to be ready for it and you’ve got to react to it and you’ve got to find some way different. You’ve got to keep them off guard. You can’t be predictable.”
Either way, Curry is the unanimous MVP and needs to get going Friday in Game 4. So does Thompson.
“All the great players, they rise to the occasion, and neither Thompson nor Curry has had a 20-point game in any of the first three games,” Barnett said. ‘I’m puzzled by that.”