Basketball

NBA Finals still come down to Warriors’ Curry, Cavaliers’ James

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, is guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2015.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, is guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2015. AP

Golden State point guard Stephen Curry could become the most prolific three-point shooter in NBA history. He already has made the most three-pointers in a postseason.

But Sunday, Curry missed the most three-point attempts in an NBA Finals game. The MVP misfired on 13 of 15 shots in the Warriors’ 95-93 overtime loss to Cleveland that tied the best-of-seven series 1-1.

“I doubt this will happen again, with the adjustments I’ll make once I’ll look at the film,” Curry said after the game. “And like I said, one game is not going to make me stop shooting or alter my confidence at all.”

But for the Warriors to regain momentum in Game 3 Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, it’s not simply about Curry making more shots. They must figure out how to prevent the Cavaliers’ LeBron James from finding his shooting touch.

Curry and James struggled from the field in Game 2. Curry made just 5 of 23 field-goal attempts, and James was 11 for 35.

But James’ ability to control the tempo, work hard in the paint (16 rebounds) and set up teammates (11 assists) was the difference for the Cavaliers. Plus, of course, he scored 39 points.

James shot 48.8 percent in the regular season, but he’s down to 42.3 percent in the postseason because he has had to take more shots after injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

The Warriors don’t mind if James shoots more as long as he’s not getting his teammates involved. In the Warriors’ 108-100 overtime victory in Game 1, James scored 44 points on 18-of-38 shooting but had only six assists.

39, 16, 11 LeBron James’ points, rebounds and assists for the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals

“Once again, I was knocking on the 40 door again,” James said. “So they let me score (almost) 40 again. … I’m happy I’m able to do that in a win.”

Allowing arguably the NBA’s best player to shoot more is risky. If James keeps shooting, he’ll likely have a game in which he makes closer to 50 percent.

“I’m not a high-volume shooter,” James said. “I’ve never been in my career. But things have changed on our team, where the shots that Kevin and Kyrie would have (taken) now have been placed on myself and the rest of the guys as well.

“It’s what needs to be done to help our team win. Am I going to be in the 30s (in shooting percentage) every game or things of that nature? I’m not sure. I would not like to. But if that’s what the case has to be to help us win, then I don’t have a choice.”

And the Warriors must hope Curry regains his shooting touch. He has missed 17 of 21 three-point attempts in the Finals. He also has committed 10 turnovers.

“We haven’t played well offensively in two games,” Curry said. “We’ve made some plays when it counted and to keep ourselves in it or, like we did in Game 1, win the game. But we haven’t really clicked.”

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are fine with how James is playing because it gives them the best chance to win. Even with his less-than-stellar shooting, he is averaging 41.5 points in the Finals.

In contrast, Cleveland has made Curry looks out of sorts.

“You credit their defense,” said Curry, who is averaging 22.5 points in the series. “They’ve done something that maybe has taken us out of our rhythm, and we have to figure out what that is specifically. But I think we’re still confident. We still believe that we’re going to win the series.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones

NBA Finals

All games on Ch. 10

  • Game 1: Golden State 108, Cleveland 100 (OT)
  • Game 2: Cleveland 95, Golden State 93 (OT)
  • Tuesday: at Cleveland, 6p.m.
  • Thursday: at Cleveland, 6p.m.
  • Sunday: at Golden State, 5p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 16:
  • at Cleveland, 6p.m.*
  • Friday, June 19:
  • at Golden State, 6p.m.*

*If necessary

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