Missing two key pillars of their starting lineup, the Golden State Warriors had to turn to two-time MVP Stephen Curry against the Toronto Raptors in Game Three of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Wednesday.
Curry obliged and gave them 47 points and six three-pointers while playing nearly the entire game but it was not enough.
The two-time defending champions fell 123-109 to the visitors and now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series as the team’s other starters could only muster 36 points combined.
🏀 GAME 3 FINAL SCORE 🏀
Kawhi Leonard (30 PTS), Kyle Lowry (23 PTS, 9 AST), & Danny Green (18 PTS, 6 3PM) help the @Raptors take a 2-1 series lead with the Game 3 road victory! #NBAFinals #WeTheNorth 123#StrengthInNumbers 109
Siakam: 18 PTS, 9 REB
Curry: 47 PTS, 6 3PM pic.twitter.com/CfDWJr3LpQ
— NBA (@NBA) 6 June 2019
Despite playing without shooting guard Klay Thompson (hamstring) and forward Kevin Durant (calf), Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the team could still hold their head high.
“Very proud,” he told reporters when asked about the team’s effort, which included players diving for loose balls and sacrificing their bodies to take charges on defense.
“They played really, really hard and gave it everything they had and just ran into a better team tonight.”
Curry echoed Kerr’s comments and said the team, who play under the motto ‘Strength in Numbers’, would not use the injuries as an excuse.
“The moment is now. You got to try to have ‘next man up’ mentality, like we always say, and just go out and fight,” he said.
“We did that tonight. We can play better, obviously better on the defensive end, but I liked the competitiveness that we had, understanding that we’re missing 50 points pretty much between KD and Klay.
“So we’ll adjust. And it’s a long series you know. It’s going to be fun for us.”
Forward Draymond Green said he also liked his team’s effort and struck an optimistic tone.
“Win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game Five, come back to Oracle, win Game Six and then celebrate. Fun times ahead.”
Kerr tipped his hat to Curry, who had a career playoff high in points despite being aggressively double-teamed throughout the contest.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) 6 June 2019
“Steph was incredible. He does things that honestly I don’t think anybody has ever done before,” he said.
“The way he plays the game, the way he shoots it and the combination of his ball handling and shooting skills, it’s incredible to watch.
“He was amazing.”
Thompson likely to return for Game 4
Golden State guard Klay Thompson sat out Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, but he likely will return for Game 4, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami late Wednesday in Oakland, Calif.
Thompson, who has a left hamstring injury, was listed on the team’s active roster an hour before game time. He lobbied to play, but the training staff and coaches kept him out, with Shaun Livingston drawing the start in Thompson’s place.
The Raptors posted a 123-109 win to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled for Friday in Oakland.
Kawakami said Kerr told him he wasn’t sure about the status of injured Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who hasn’t played since May 8 due to a right calf strain.
Thompson missed a playoff game for the first time in his postseason career after having made a franchise-record 120 straight. LeBron James, with 239, is the only player with a longer streak of postseason appearances.
Kerr said pregame in an interview with NBA TV’s Allie LaForce that Thompson was “dying to play,” but the team did not want to take a major risk.
Thompson was injured when he landed awkwardly after attempting a 3-point shot in the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Sunday in Toronto. He finished the game in the locker room while the Warriors were wrapping up their 109-104 win that evened the best-of-seven at 1-1.
The Warriors remain without big man Kevon Looney, who is sidelined for the remainder of the series due to a rib cartilage injury.