Has there been a momentum shift in the NBA Finals?

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Updated: June 9, 2016
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Needless to say, it has been quite a successful season for the first unanimous MVP winner Stephen Curry. He manages to break his own record for most 3-point field goals (402), he led the league in scoring, and accomplished it all during a 73-win record-breaking season.

But he has yet to bring that stellar play into the NBA Finals. Curry is struggling, and it no longer seems like a walk in the park for the Warriors to repeat as champions. Curry is averaging only 16 points per game in the Finals, which is nearly half of what he averaged during the regular season.

There is a credible debate that both Curry and Klay Thompson have clearly missed shots they usually make in the first three games. Not to mention, Curry was in foul trouble in Game 2. But, in Game 3, he was shut down by a smothering, invasive defense by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors still lead the series 2-1, but Curry will have to step up his play if they want to repeat.

“Last night was a struggle. Just, again, foul trouble and kind of dealing with that, but also not being as aggressive as I needed to be. I don’t know what the reason was for that, and it won’t be that in Game 4,” Curry said.

When analyzing Curry’s performance thus far in the Finals, it immediately takes me back to last year. We can all agree he is definitely struggling a lot more this time around, but it feels the same. Through three games, anyway. But you can’t expect the Splash Brothers to continue down this path. At some point you assume it’ll start clicking for the dynamic backcourt.

It’s important not to overreact, but things got really interesting with the Cavaliers winning Game 3. What happened was expected, especially after Cleveland’s collapse in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and the second half of Game 2. They were due for a breakout performance.

Having said that, the Cavaliers team that we witnessed on Wednesday, was different from what we saw in the first two games. Did home court play that much of a factor? Of course it added a little boost, but everyone already began writing this team off.

All of a sudden, Golden State doesn’t seem so invincible.

James has help this time around — with a healthy Kyrie Irving, and hopefully Kevin Love. If Irving can continue to be explosive offensively, and half-decent on defense, it’s enough to make James and a roster full of shooters dangerous enough to beat any team.

It’ll be interesting to see what Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue decides to do with his rotation when Love (concussion) is cleared to play. After sitting Game 3, where does he fit? Does he come off the bench? Do you start him at center and help stretch the floor? Love is back practicing, but has yet to be cleared to play in Game 4.

What’s so intriguing, though, is Cleveland has done a commendable job defensively containing both Thompson and Curry. It obviously didn’t matter in Games 1 and 2, but if you’re the Cavs, you have to feel comfortable forcing the Warriors’ role players to continue to carry them. On the other hand, Curry and Thompson could also be destined for a huge game.

For the most part, Golden State still has control of this series, but a huge statement was made in Game 3 in “the Q.” It’s time for the reigning MVP to do his part. But his supporting cast has done a phenomenal job thus far.

“I’ve just got to be aggressive and play better, and be more assertive in my scoring positions and my playmaking positions on the floor. There’s a sense of urgency, knowing how big Game 4 is, and I need to be ready,” Curry said after Wednesday’s game.

It is definitely “deja vu” if you can look back to last year’s Finals. He struggled early in the series, and then responded and helped lead his team to their first championship in over 30 years. In Game 3, Cleveland made a statement. Last year is in the past. Now, we’re waiting for a rebuttal from Curry in Game 4.

 

 

DC Hendrix

DC Hendrix

Report for Sideline Sports Report. Producer/Host for ESPN 1380 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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