Stephen Curry showed throughout Game 4 that no matter how good your defense is, he will find a way to weave his magic and score on you.
He did that to the tune of 43 points on Friday night in the the Golden State Warriors’ 107-97 win over the Boston Celtics as the Dubs tied up the NBA Finals at 2-2.
As the Celtics search for a means to stop the two-time MVP, they know even their best defense won’t always be good enough. Whether Boston, which had the best defense during the NBA regular season (the Warriors were second in defensive rating) can find those answers will go a long to deciding who will win the best-of-seven series..
Coach Ime Udoka is calling for the Celtics to mix things up and be more physical on the heels of Curry’s masterpiece display when the teams face off in Game 5 back in the Bay Area, live on Sky Sports Arena & Main Event from 1.45am overnight on Monday night.
Udoka will allow his guards some leeway in deciding exactly where to begin pressuring Golden State’s superstar – often starting well beyond the 3-point arc with the big men staying at the ready to assist.
Curry went 14-for-26 with seven 3-pointers and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Once he finds a rhythm, he can hit from anywhere, even with a defender’s hand in his face. But Udoka realises how the career 3-point leader can quickly become just as dangerous a playmaker, too.
“Obviously, the range extends the floor some,” Udoka said. “Some of the shots that he’s hitting are only shots that he can hit and have been highly contested. He’s hit a few of those.
“We’re leaving it up to our guards, a lot of responsibility, where they want to pick up and pressure him, mix up his pick up point, understanding they can mix some unders that have been quite successful against him if it’s high enough. If not, force him in where contest and get the onus on those guys more than anything.
“Their bigs aren’t really getting out quick-rolling so we can show a crowd there. They’re really trying to set the screens and free him up as much as possible more so than rolling so our bigs don’t really need to worry about dropping.
“The thing he does well, obviously, is that once he gets off the ball, the movement, that’s different. He doesn’t just stop and they all are hunting shots for him as you saw when we switched a little bit. We can mix it up there, be a little bit more physical, mix some unders on him when he’s that high. We’ve been good as far as that.
“The fact he’s such a willing and good playmaker, I think, makes it tougher to go after him – as opposed to some other guys who don’t want to get off the ball. He finds the guys in the pocket and that’s when Draymond is at his best, making plays for others, so it’s a balance of both.”
The 34-year-old Curry recorded the second-best scoring performance of his career on the finals stage – second only to the 47 points he put up in Game 3 of 2019 against eventual champion Toronto – and joined Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only players age 34 or older with at least 40 points in a finals game.
So, was watching the film session from Friday’s game almost as fun for Curry as what he did during it?
“Whether you play well individually or not, you always know what happens at the end. It’s like watching the end of a movie. It’s always nice to know that the movie turns out great at the end,” he said.
“But I think it’s more so just the balance of watching what worked and trying to understand those patterns so that you can repeat that for the next game. Maybe anticipate some adjustments that might happen. Try to slow it down and try to be one step ahead of that. In the meantime, also watching a lot of different reactions in the crowd and on the bench and stuff like that, too. That’s always some good entertainment.”
Klay feels refreshed after ocean dip
Klay Thompson posted on social media he jumped in the bay Saturday for an open-water swim.
He wrote: “The ocean heals the mind, body & soul.”
Curry’s Splash Brother scored 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting in Game 4. Thompson’s 35.8 per cent shooting is the lowest for any NBA Finals he has played, and he is making just 34.2 per cent from deep – down from 58.5 per cent on threes in the 2019 finals.
Monday will mark the three-year anniversary of when he got injured in those finals, during the Warriors’ decisive Game 6 loss to Toronto that clinched the Raptors’ first title at Oracle Arena. Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee that required surgery and began a more than two-and-a-half year absence. During that stretch he also tore his right Achilles tendon and needed that repaired.
Curry’s lucky kicks?
When told he is 3-0 in his purple game sneakers, Curry could only laugh and hope he hadn’t now been jinxed.
And, no, he wasn’t keeping track of that obscure stat.
“I did not even know that, so I appreciate you,” Curry said. “I don’t know if that messes with the juju on there if I’m aware of the record now. I’ve got a lot of different colours, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Got me thinking now, too.”
Time Lord ready to go?
Celtics center Robert Williams III is still dealing with soreness in his troublesome left knee. He had surgery in March to repair torn cartilage before returning for Game 3 of the first round against Brooklyn. The Celtics continue to monitor him, though Udoka said the 6-foot-9 big man was better on Sunday.
Boston didn’t find a specific moment on film that showed when Williams might have re-aggravated the tender knee.
“Doing better, the day off, the rest, equalled with today and tomorrow, optimistic he’ll be good to go,” Udoka said. “But we’ll test it before the game as usual.”
The NBA Finals (TV listings here) continue on Sky Sports this week, subscribe to watch the live action.