CLEVELAND — Stephen Curry has had his shoulder wrapped in this series, been questioned about his level of fatigue, even had his choice of footwear shredded on Twitter.
It hasn’t been the easiest time for the MVP.
He could get the most perfect of endings anyway.
Golden State’s point guard – the two-time reigning MVP who had the most prolific 3-point season in league history by a ridiculously wide margin on his way to a scoring title – has had probably more moments of struggle than many expected in these NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Still, his Warriors are on the cusp of back-to-back titles and could hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy again with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night.
“Definitely the biggest game,” Curry said. “And I’m ready for it.”
The Warriors can only hope he’s right.
Golden State leads the series 3-2 and can win the title on Cleveland’s home floor for the second straight year – which would probably be plenty sweet for Curry, who was born in nearby Akron, Ohio (as was Cavs’ star LeBron James). He could join a very select club of players who won MVP awards and NBA titles in consecutive seasons, the others on that list being James, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell.
But to get there, Curry and the Warriors still need one more win – and a big night from their best scorer would go a long way toward making that a reality. Even with Draymond Green suspended for Game 5 because of too many flagrant fouls, Golden State still felt it had a chance to close the series out at home on Monday night but succumbed to 41-point barrages from James and Kyrie Irving.
“I don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment and say Game 5 was a direct reflection of who we are as a team and who I am as an individual, as a player, as a leader,” Curry said. “I was out there doing what I was trying to do to help our team win and it didn’t work. So that happens in sports. It happens in our game, and nothing’s going to stop me from coming back and doing what I do to help lead my team in Game 6.”
Curry isn’t exactly looking for a breakout game – he already had a 38-point effort in Game 4, when the Warriors won in Cleveland and grabbed a 3-1 series lead.
But the Cavs have not made this simple.
They’ve held Curry under 50 percent shooting in four of the five games so far, kept him under 20 points in three of them and have essentially forced him into one turnover for every assist (23 assists, 22 turnovers). Everyone knows that the Warriors’ attack is fueled by Curry and Klay Thompson, and Cleveland has frustrated both at times.
“We want to continue to not turn the ball over and stop those guys, Steph and Klay, from just having one of these barrages from the perimeter,” James said. “We also want to try to put pressure on those other guys. Those other guys can beat you as well.”
The Warriors reviewed the Game 5 film on Wednesday morning, and Curry didn’t like a lot of what he saw.
It wasn’t his 8-for-21 shooting, 5 for 14 from 3-point land, that made him cringe. Instead, he noticed tons of slippage in areas where Golden State usually excels, and he knows that if those areas get cleaned up for Game 6, the Warriors could cap a year that already includes an NBA-record 73 regular-season wins with the title they need to make this run truly historic.
“I don’t really worry about the shots that I missed,” Curry said. “Those are ones you live with. … The stuff that kind of bothered me the most is on the offensive end there were certain possessions where we had the right reads and right looks, but passes got deflected because they were a little lazy or we didn’t have a crispness to what we were doing. That was a situation where you felt like you had missed opportunities.”
Game 6 is another opportunity.
He believes he won’t miss this one.
“Yeah, I want to honestly play better and more consistent,” Curry said. “But the situation is right now we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win.”