There’s lit­tle rest for weary in Fi­nals

James is feel­ing it (ex­haus­tion) and Curry is look­ing for it (his shot)

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike Bres­na­han

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Two games into the NBA Fi­nals, there are al­ready two ma­jor ail­ments: LeBron James’ body and Stephen Curry’s out­side touch.

James keeps bulling through the Golden State War­riors while log­ging larger-than-life min­utes, scor­ing 39 points on way-be­low­stan­dard shoot­ing and then am­bling s-l-o-w-l-y to the podium to talk to re­porters af­ter Game 2.

“Did you see how I walked in here? I’m feel­ing it. I’m feel­ing it right now for sure,” James said Sun­day night. “We al­ready have started on my re­hab. I will

get re­hab on the plane. We’ve got a five-hour f light back home, and we’ve got all-around-the-clock treat­ment [Mon­day] and get ready for Game 3. I’ll be ready.”

James sounded con­fi­dent, even though his back and knees might feel oth­er­wise.

He logged 50 min­utes in the Cava­liers’ 95-93 over­time victory but made only 11 of 36 shots, an un­sightly 31.4% for some­one who shot 48.8% in the regular sea­son. He added 16 re­bounds and 11 as­sists.

He was bet­ter in Game 1, mak­ing 18 of 38 at­tempts, but piled up 46 min­utes in that one, an­other over­time game.

Game 3 of the dead-even se­ries is Tues­day in Cleve­land.

James, 30, can blame fa­tigue or sore­ness for his de­clin­ing ac­cu­racy. Not to men­tion the strain of throw­ing an en­tire team on his shoul­ders with­out in­jured All-Stars Kyrie Irv­ing and Kevin Love.

But what to say about with the War­riors’ Curry, who was five for 23 in Game 2 and has made only seven of his last 33 three-point at­tempts (21.2%)?

The NBA’s most valu­able player can’t claim the wear and tear that James ex­pe­ri­ences, yet Curry set a Fi­nals record by miss­ing 13 three­p­oint at­tempts in Game 2. He made only two.

He was a stel­lar 44.3% shooter be­hind the arc in the regular sea­son.

Not to worry, said Golden State Coach Steve Kerr, win­ner of five NBA cham­pi­onships as a sharp­shooter with the Chicago Bulls and San An­to­nio Spurs.

“I’ve seen it with every­body. I’ve seen it with Michael Jor­dan, Tim Dun­can,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t mat­ter who you are. No­body is im­mune from a tough night.

“Steph has been phe­nom­e­nal through­out the play­offs. Doesn’t mean he’s go­ing to light it up ev­ery sin­gle night. So you chalk it up to a bad night and see what you can do to try to free him up and maybe get him some open looks.”

In one way, Irv­ing ’s sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury might have saved the Cava­liers, who cranked up the de­fense and sicced Matthew Dellave­dova on Curry.

A sec­ond-year player out of St. Mary’s, Dellave­dova also had strong de­fen­sive play­off games against At- lanta’s Jeff Teague and Chicago’s Der­rick Rose. He was the nat­u­ral choice to start Game 2 af­ter Irv­ing went down late in Game 1.

“It had ev­ery­thing to do with Delly. He just kept a body on Steph,” James said. “He made Steph work. He was spec­tac­u­lar, man, de­fen­sively.”

Curry has been the toast of the Bay Area, his free-- shoot­ing style earn­ing him con­tin­ual M-V-P chants at Or­a­cle Arena and a “Hu­man Torch” nick­name from ador­ing fol­low­ers.

There was a def­i­nite feel­ing of shock in the arena Sun­day when he kept miss­ing. And miss­ing.

His layup with 7.2 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion helped send the game to over­time, but then he went cold again, miss­ing two three-point shots in over­time and air­balling a 19-footer that could have given Golden State a one-point edge with only a hand­ful of sec­onds left. He also had two turnovers in over­time.

“I’m not go­ing to let one game kind of al­ter my con­fi­dence,” Curry said. “I know as a team we’re not go­ing to let one game al­ter our be­lief that we’re go­ing to win the se­ries. I doubt this will hap­pen again, with the ad­just­ments I’ll make once I’ll look at the film.

The teams will have had only two days be­tween Games 2 and 3, a change from the three days be­tween Games 1 and 2, not to men­tion the week-long lay­off be­fore the Fi­nals even started.

James will take what­ever rest is avail­able, hop­ing his ac­cu­racy im­proves while main­tain­ing op­ti­mal out­put in prac­ti­cally ev­ery other cat­e­gory.

“He re­ally willed his guys to win that game,” Cleve­land Coach David Blatt said af­ter Game 2. “That’s what a cham­pion does, and ob­vi­ously he’s a cham­pion.”

Ben Mar­got As­so­ci­ated Press

STEPHEN CURRY REACTS af­ter be­ing called for a foul on LeBron James, on the f loor, dur­ing the sec­ond half of Game 2, won by the Cava­liers. Nei­ther star is shoot­ing well in the first two games of the Fi­nals.

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