There’s little rest for weary in Finals
James is feeling it (exhaustion) and Curry is looking for it (his shot)
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.”
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.