The Golden State Warriors’ potent offense went missing on Friday but they were not about to lose any sleep even as their bid for postseason perfection was snapped and championship celebrations were put on hold.
With a chance to close out the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers and celebrate their second NBA title in three seasons, two-times reigning league MVP Stephen Curry went cold.
Curry, of the best shooters in basketball history, had his worst game of the Finals, scoring a mere 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
“Just one of those games. Not going to overreact to one,” Curry told reporters. “Obviously I can play better and want to play better and will play better.”
Curry will get a chance to atone for his sub-par performance on Monday when the best-of-seven series shifts to Oakland with the Warriors still holding a commanding 3-1 lead.
The loss was the Warriors’ first in two months, dating back to the regular season, and puts them in familiar position having returned home last year with a 3-1 lead over Cleveland in the NBA Finals, which they went on to lose in seven games.
But the Warriors have added four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant since last year’s Finals meltdown and are not going to let past results shatter their confidence.
“Man, different team, man,” said Curry when asked if going home with an identical lead felt reminiscent of last year.
“Obviously we have haven’t felt this feeling walking off the court with a loss in a while, but we have done a good job of bouncing back and being resilient all year and obviously learning from all different experiences we have been through.”
Ultimately the Warriors were undone by a slow start on Friday as the Cavaliers, playing with their backs up against the wall, turned in their most physical and complete game of the NBA’s championship series.
The Cavaliers’ approach managed to open up the game in their favour and they used 24 three-pointers to pull away.
“They did a good job of attacking early and it opened up their three-point game,” said Durant, who had a team-high 35 points.
“That first quarter they came out and hit us with that amazing punch. 49 points in the first quarter is way too much. But you got to give them credit, they played extremely well tonight.”