OAKLAND: Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and Cleveland Cavaliers playmaker Kyrie Irving will try to shake off poor shooting performances on Sunday (Monday in Manila) in game two of the NBA Finals.
NBA scoring champion Curry connected on only 4-of-15 shots for 11 points in the Warriors’ 104-89 victory in Thursday’s best-of-seven series opener while Irving hit just 7-of-22 from the floor but went 11-of-12 from the free throw line to score a game-high 26 points.
“I’m going to continue to have an aggressive mindset,” Irving said. “You have to pick and choose your spots. It’s just being more efficient in those spots when we’re in transition, more efficient on those opportunities.”
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Curry, who hit a record 402 3-pointers this season, will often be guarding Irving as he tries to bounce back from one of his worst showings.
“I just need to play better,” Curry said. “When we’re at our competitive best as a team is usually when I’m playing a pretty good game. I don’t think I need to press to score a certain amount of points, but be more decisive with the ball.”
That’s the same thing Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue wants to see from Irving.
“We want Kyrie to be aggressive but it has to be sharp, quick attacks,” Lue said. “You can’t dribble for eight or nine seconds.
“But we need him to score. Kyrie is the one guy we have who can break down guys off the dribble, so it’s going to be a fine line but he has to be quicker on the attack.”
Lue also told Cavaliers star LeBron James to pick up the offensive pace and make quicker decisions just as Irving must.
“He can score with the best of them and you never want to take that aggression from him,” James said of Irving. “We know as a team when the ball is moving and has good energy behind it, we’re all in good rhythm.”
Curry got a brief lesson in Saturday’s practice from Jerry West, a Warriors part owner and executive who was a 1960s star for the Los Angeles Lakers.
West, whose silhouette was used for the NBA’s logo, worked with Curry on hand positions but downplayed his effort, saying, “I’m no messenger.”
Still, it was clear Curry was intently paying attention to every hint and idea.
“He has such a unique perspective and the little things he sees, especially from my game—how to use leverage with your hands, use your body to create space—that’s invaluable advice,” Curry said.
“When he comes around and gives us a little something that might help us it’s important— it’s ‘The Logo’ so you take his advice strongly.”
The two-day gap between games is a scheduling change made to better ensure players are at their peak and not too fatigued from nearly two months of playoff efforts.
“From a mental standpoint it’s a little too long but from a physical standpoint it’s great getting so much recovery,” Irving said. “I know the league wants to see everyone at the top of their games playing at the highest level as healthy as they can be, so I don’t really mind.”