Stephen Curry posts worst NBA Finals Game Score by MVP in 26 years


Stephen Curry played terribly in Game 2.

He shot 5-for-23, including 2-of-15 on 3-pointers and committed six turnovers. He air-balled the potential game-winner in overtime and threw away the ball on the Warriors’ final possession.

It was a disastrous performance for anyone, let alone the reigning MVP.

Here’s how every MVP has performed in each Finals game since 1985, as far back as has complete game logs. To measure, we’ll use Game Score:

the formula is PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTAFT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PFTOV. Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, (40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc.).


Game Game Score
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G1 40.8
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G1 37.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G2 37
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G1 36.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G4 35.6
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G1 35
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G3 35
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G2 34.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G2 33.5
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G1 33.5
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G5 33.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G2 33
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G1 32.6
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G7 32.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G6 32.2
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G6 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G1 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G5 30.7
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G2 30.6
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G6 29.7
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G4 29.6
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G5 28.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G4 28.7
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G4 28.6
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G6 28.5
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G3 28.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G3 28.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G4 28
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G4 26.3
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G5 26.1
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G6 25.9
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G6 25.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G5 25.7
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G3 25.6
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G5 25.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G3 25.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G4 25.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G6 25.3
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G6 25.1
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G2 25.1
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G2 25
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G2 24.8
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G3 24.8
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G2 24.7
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G3 24.1
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G3 23.6
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G3 23.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G2 23.3
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G2 23
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G4 22.5
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G1 22.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G7 22
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G4 21.9
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G2 21.8
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G4 21.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G1 21.5
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G5 21.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G1 21.2
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G3 20.9
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G3 20.7
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G4 20.6
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G3 20.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G2 20.2
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G2 20.1
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G6 20.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G1 20.1
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G1 20
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G1 19.5
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G4 19.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G5 19.2
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G3 19
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G5 18.7
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G3 18.6
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G5 18.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G1 18.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G4 18.3
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G4 18
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G2 17.9
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G6 17.8
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G7 17.7
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G6 17.7
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G4 17.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G3 17.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G5 17
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G5 16.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G5 16.2
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G6 15.6
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G1 15.6
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G5 15.1
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G6 14.9
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G5 14.8
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G4 14.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G5 12.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G1 12.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G3 12.1
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G5 11.7
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G2 11.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G1 11
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G3 10.3
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G4 9.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G2 9.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G6 8
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G2 5.2
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G2 2.9
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G3 -0.7

The only mark worse than Curry’s 2.9 is Magic Johnson’s -0.7 in Game 3 of the 1989 NBA Finals. But Johnson played just five minutes, missing a couple shots and dishing an assist, due to a hamstring injury suffered in Game 2. He missed all of Game 4 as the Pistons completed the sweep.

Curry played 42 stunningly awful minutes.

Credit Matthew Dellavedova and the Cavaliers’ defense. They performed well.

But also blame Curry for laying an egg when it counts most. MVPs aren’t supposed to play this way.

Until last night, it’d been a long time since one had.

Spoestra’s biggest Heat adjustment for Game 2? Play with more ‘toughness and resolve’


DENVER — The days between NBA Finals are filled with talk of adjustments. After an ugly Game 1, much of that falls on the Heat — what can Erik Spoelstra draw up to get Jimmy Butler better lanes to attack? How must the Heat adjust their defense on Nikola Jokick?

Spoelstra sees it a little differently.

“Scheme is not going to save us,” he said.

His point is straightforward, the team’s best adjustment is simply to play better. More effort, more resolve. The trio of Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson must do better than 2-of-23 from 3. The Heat can’t settle for jumpers like they did in Game 1, they have to attack the rim and draw some fouls, getting to the line (the Heat had just two free throws in Game 1). Their halfcourt defensive decisions have to be sharper. Those are not scheme-related things.

The Heat saw some of that in the second half, but Spoelstra made it clear the better last 24 minutes (particularly the last 12) was more about effort than the adjustments they made (such as playing more Haywood Highsmith and putting him on Jokić for a while).

“I never point to the scheme. Scheme is not going to save us,” Spoelstra said. “It’s going to be the toughness and resolve, collective resolve. That’s us at our finest, when we rally around each other and commit to doing incredibly tough things. That’s what our group loves to do more than anything, to compete, to get out there and do things that people think can’t be done.

“The efforts made that work in the second half, but we’re proving that we can do that with our man defense, too.”

Among the things many people don’t think can be done is the Heat coming back in this series. But Spoelstra is right, proving people wrong is what the Heat have done all playoffs.


Phoenix Suns reportedly to hire Frank Vogel as new head coach


Frank Vogel won a title coaching two stars — LeBron James and Anthony Davis — in Los Angeles.

Now he will get the chance to coach two more stars with title aspirations, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in Phoenix. The Suns are finalizing a deal to make Vogel their new head coach, according to multiple reports. This is reportedly a five-year, $31 million deal.

New Suns owner Mat Ishbia — who took over in early February and immediately pushed for the Durant trade — reportedly has been the man at the helm of basketball operations since his arrival, making this primarily his choice. Doc Rivers and Suns assistant Kevin Young also were in the mix for the job.

Vogel may not be the sexiest hire on the board — and it’s fair to ask how much of an upgrade he is over Monty Williams — but it is a solid one. The Suns can win with.

Vogel is a defense-first coach who has had success in both Indiana — where he led the Paul George Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals twice — as well as with LeBron’s Lakers (Vogel struggled in Orlando, but that was more about the roster than coaching).

Vogel is a good coach for superstars because he is relatively egoless, low-key, and a strong communicator — this is not a big personality with a hard-line attitude. Instead, he works to get buy-in from his guys and gives his stars plenty of freedom on the offensive end. Durant and Booker will have their say in what the offense looks like, but Vogel will demand defensive accountability.

There is a “good chance” Kevin Young — the top assistant under Monty Williams who had the endorsement of Devin Booker for the head coaching job — will stay on as Vogel’s lead assistant, reports John Gambadoro, the well-connected host on 98.7 FM radio in Phoenix. If true, that be a coup for the Suns, who would keep a player favorite coach to be more of an offensive coordinator. It is also possible that Young and other assistant coaches (such as Jarrett Jack) will follow Williams to Detroit, where he was just hired (on a massive deal).

Nick Nurse doesn’t ‘vibrate on the frequency of the past,’ talks winning with 76ers, Harden


In his first day on the job, Nick Nurse didn’t shy away from the hard topics and high expectations — he embraced them.

Nurse is the new 76ers head coach — and Doc Rivers is out — because the team was bounced in the second round. Again. Nurse said at his introductory press conference that he doesn’t see the way past this is to ignore the problem (from NBC Sports Philadelphia).

“We’re going to hit that head-on,” he said… “We know we’re judged on how we play in the playoffs. It was the same in Toronto. We hadn’t played that well (in the playoffs) and certain players hadn’t played that well, and all those kinds of things. So the reality is that’s the truth. I would imagine that from Day 1, we’re going to talk about that and we’re going to try to attack that. We’re going to have to face it and we’re going to have to rise to it.”

Nurse stuck with that theme through multiple questions about the past and what he will do differently. Nurse talked about the players being open-minded to trying new things, some of which may not work, but the goal is to get a lot of different things on the table.

He also talked about this 76ers team being championship-level and not getting hung up on that past.

“My first thought on that is this team could be playing tonight (in the Finals), along with some others in the Eastern Conference that wish they were getting ready to throw the ball up tonight… And as far as the rest of it, I look at it this way: I don’t really vibrate on the frequency of the past. To me, when we get a chance to start and dig into this thing a little bit, it’s going to be only focused on what we’re trying to do going forward. … Whatever’s happened for the last however many years doesn’t matter to me.”

The other big question in the room is the future of potential free agent James Harden.

Harden has a $35.6 million player option for next season he is widely expected to opt out of, making him a free agent. While rumors of a Harden reunion in Houston run rampant across the league, the 76ers want to bring him back and Nurse said his sales pitch is winning.

“Listen, I think that winning is always the sell,” he said. “Can we be good enough to win it all? That’s got to be a goal of his. And if it is, then he should stay here and play for us, because I think there’s a possibility of that.”

Whatever the roster looks like around MVP Joel Embiid, the 76ers should be title contenders. Nurse has to start laying the groundwork this summer, but his ultimate tests will come next May, not before.

Silver: Ja Morant investigation results, possible suspension to come down after Finals

Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford/Getty Images

DENVER — The NBA has nearly concluded its investigation into the latest incident of Ja Morant apparently waiving a gun on social media, however, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league plans to “park” the report and any announcement of a possible punishment until after the NBA Finals, so as not to distract from the games.

“We’ve uncovered a fair amount of additional information, I think, since I was first asked about the situation,” Silver said in a press conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “I will say we probably could have brought it to a head now, but we made the decision, and I believe the Players Association agrees with us, that it would be unfair to these players and these teams in the middle of the series to announce the results of that investigation.

“Given that we’re, of course, in the offseason, he has now been suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies indefinitely, so nothing would have changed anyway in the next few weeks. It seemed better to park that at the moment, at least any public announcement, and my sense now is that shortly after the conclusion of the Finals we will announce the outcome of that investigation.”

That statement hints at a long suspension for Morant — Silver believes the announcement will be big enough news to draw headlines over the NBA Finals. That only happens if it’s something significant. Silver would not divulge any potential punishment, but the expectation in league circles is for him to come down much harder on Morant this time. While Morant did not break any laws, this is a serious image issue for the NBA (one that reverberates through decades of the league).

The Grizzlies suspended Morant after he appeared to flash a handgun on friend Davonte Pack’s Instagram account. Morant has since released a statement taking responsibility for his actions, but otherwise staying out of the spotlight.

That came months after Morant was suspended eight games after another video of him flashing a gun in a Denver area club was posted on Instagram Live.

After that first incident, Morant spent time away from the team to seek counseling, and he met with Silver about what had happened. Morant admitted after the No. 2 seed Grizzlies were eliminated in the first round by the Lakers his actions were part of the distractions that threw off the Grizzlies.

Silver was asked if he had come down harder on Morant after the first incident — his suspension was seen as player-friendly — if things would have been different.

“I’ve thought about that, and Joe Dumars [VP of basketball operations with the NBA], who is here, was in the room with me when we met with Ja, and he’s known Ja longer than I have, Silver said. “For me at the time, an eight-game suspension seemed very serious, and the conversation we had, and Tamika Tremaglio from the Players Association was there, as well, felt heartfelt and serious. But I think he understood that it wasn’t about his words. It was going to be about his future conduct.

“I guess in hindsight, I don’t know. If it had been a 12-game suspension instead of an eight-game suspension, would that have mattered?”

Morant lost about $669,000 in salary with the last suspension, although the real hit was his missing games and the team stumbling after this incident, giving voters a reason to keep him off an All-NBA team — that cost him $39 million on his contract extension that kicks in next season (he is not eligible for the Rose Rule max).