There was a sigh of relief across Cleveland when the Cavaliers hammered the Golden State Warriors (120-90) to take Game 3 at the Quicken Loans Arena. It was an exorcism of sorts as the Cavs were embarrassed in the first two games of the NBA Finals by a combined 48 points. After Game 2, there was an expectation that the Cavs won’t even win one in this seven game series and the Warriors were going to cruise to their 2nd straight championship.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavs charge with 32 and 30 points, respectively, effectively attacking a floundering Warriors defense. The Cavs are now officially back and hopefully, they can make a series out of this.
The big storyline that hasn’t been discussed is the disappearing act of Warriors star point guard Steph Curry. In Games 1 and 2, the Warriors’ bench players and Draymond Green stepped up big to give two convincing wins. But the Warriors simply can’t rely on their bench to win the title. They need Curry to step up and step up big.
Curry has had an unprecedented season full of historic firsts. He led the Warriors to the best regular season record in NBA history winning 73 games. Curry is also the first player to make 400 three-pointers in one season. He is one of the few guards to win back-to-back MVP titles. He has become the face of the NBA and is at the cusp of being the best player until this series.
To put things in context, Curry was the leading NBA scorer with 30.1 points per game including 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists during the regular season. He also shot 45.1% percent from deep and had a 50.1% shot percentage. In the last 3 games versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, Curry scored at least 30 points per game to bring his team back from a 1-3 hole and win the Western Conference Finals.
Fast-forward to the NBA Finals and Curry is definitely in a slump. He is only averaging 16 points per game shooting a measly 43%. The result is that they beat the Cavs by 33 points in Game 2 only to get walloped by 30 points in Game 3. The Cavs are now becoming more confident and think that they can go toe-to-toe with the defending champs. This is a dangerous development for the Warriors who only a few days ago were riding on a wave of dominance.
Curry needs to play a sensational game in Game 4 to further add to the legacy that he is slowly building. He must also win his first Finals MVP to cap an amazing individual season. If you recall, Curry was also not as dominant in last year’s Finals when Andre Iguodala won the MVP by shellacking LeBron James.
Curry now has a chance at redemption and lead his team to the Promised Land. If he doesn’t come out and play season, this could very well be the first time the Cavs win an NBA title.