Stephen Curry took a long time to shoot in Game 2. Will that change in Game 3?


Stephen Curry shot horribly in Game 2 of the NBA Finals 2.

But, for a while, he didn’t shoot at all.

The Warriors guard attempted his first shot with 5:19 left in the first quarter, a long shot-less period for a player of his caliber.

Curry got to the free-throw line with 7:01 left in the opening period, but that’s still nearly five minutes before his first attempt of any kind.

Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert denied Curry the ball and guarded him well later in the game, though they didn’t have to do much to start. Curry rarely aggressively sought the ball nor aggressively attacked once he had it. By the time Curry took his first shot, Klay Thompson was already 4-for-6.

Taking six minutes and 41 seconds to hoist his first shot was his second-longest wait of the season:


Game Minutes before first shot
05/11/2015 at MEM 8:30
06/07/2015 vs. CLE 6:41
03/02/2015 at BRK 5:45
12/30/2014 vs. PHI 5:24
10/29/2014 at SAC 4:31
05/13/2015 vs. MEM 4:27
01/13/2015 at UTA 4:10
03/27/2015 at MEM 4:09
01/25/2015 vs. BOS 4:01
04/13/2015 vs. MEM 3:54
11/08/2014 at HOU 3:51
03/08/2015 vs. LAC 3:39
11/26/2014 at ORL 3:37
12/16/2014 at MEM 3:34
12/27/2014 vs. MIN 3:21
02/06/2015 at ATL 3:19
04/02/2015 vs. PHO 3:16
03/31/2015 at LAC 3:16
01/07/2015 vs. IND 3:09
02/07/2015 at NYK 3:04
03/28/2015 at MIL 3:00
05/23/2015 at HOU 2:57
11/30/2014 at DET 2:54
02/20/2015 vs. SAS 2:47
01/21/2015 vs. HOU 2:47
04/25/2015 at NOP 2:36
11/09/2014 at PHO 2:33
11/11/2014 vs. SAS 2:32
03/20/2015 vs. NOP 2:29
03/18/2015 vs. ATL 2:27
03/11/2015 vs. DET 2:27
04/07/2015 at NOP 2:25
12/23/2014 at LAL 2:23
03/14/2015 vs. NYK 2:22
12/02/2014 vs. ORL 2:22
11/16/2014 at LAL 2:22
05/19/2015 vs. HOU 2:21
04/05/2015 at SAS 2:20
04/20/2015 vs. NOP 2:18
03/06/2015 vs. DAL 2:17
04/23/2015 at NOP 2:16
02/24/2015 at WAS 2:16
12/18/2014 vs. OKC 2:16
03/04/2015 vs. MIL 2:12
02/03/2015 at SAC 2:07
02/26/2015 at CLE 2:06
02/04/2015 vs. DAL 2:03
05/03/2015 vs. MEM 2:00
01/27/2015 vs. CHI 1:57
03/09/2015 at PHO 1:55
05/05/2015 vs. MEM 1:54
11/21/2014 vs. UTA 1:54
01/17/2015 at HOU 1:52
12/22/2014 vs. SAC 1:52
04/15/2015 vs. DEN 1:45
12/10/2014 vs. HOU 1:44
02/11/2015 at MIN 1:42
01/14/2015 vs. MIA 1:40
11/05/2014 vs. LAC 1:32
01/16/2015 at OKC 1:29
12/13/2014 at DAL 1:28
12/08/2014 at MIN 1:28
03/23/2015 vs. WAS 1:27
01/19/2015 vs. DEN 1:25
12/04/2014 vs. NOP 1:24
05/25/2015 at HOU 1:22
04/09/2015 vs. POR 1:17
11/01/2014 vs. LAL 1:16
11/28/2014 at CHO 1:14
03/21/2015 vs. UTA 1:11
12/06/2014 at CHI 1:10
01/30/2015 at UTA 1:09
12/25/2014 at LAC 1:08
04/18/2015 vs. NOP 1:06
11/02/2014 at POR 1:04
12/14/2014 at NOP 1:02
03/24/2015 at POR 1:00
06/04/2015 vs. CLE 0:55
11/25/2014 at MIA 0:48
11/23/2014 at OKC 0:46
02/27/2015 at TOR 0:45
01/09/2015 vs. CLE 0:45
01/05/2015 vs. OKC 0:45
05/21/2015 vs. HOU 0:44
04/11/2015 vs. MIN 0:44
01/23/2015 vs. SAC 0:41
11/13/2014 vs. BRK 0:39
03/01/2015 at BOS 0:38
01/02/2015 vs. TOR 0:38
04/04/2015 at DAL 0:37
05/09/2015 at MEM 0:32
05/15/2015 at MEM 0:20
05/27/2015 vs. HOU 0:19
02/09/2015 at PHI 0:19
01/31/2015 vs. PHO 0:17
03/16/2015 vs. LAL 0:16
11/15/2014 vs. CHO 0:14

The only time Curry took longer to hoist his first shot was Game 4 against the Grizzlies – when Curry scored 33 points on 11-of-22 shooting, including 4-of-9 on 3-pointers, to lead the Warriors to a win. So, there’s obviously no perfect correlation.

However, given Curry’s struggles throughout Game 2 – he shot 5-for-23, including 2-for-15 on 3-pointers – I wonder whether there’s something to this.

I’m not sure whether a delayed first shot was a cause or symptom. But I’m curious whether the Warriors will do anything to get Curry going earlier in Game 3 tonight.

Curry says his fall vs. Houston not related to shooting slump


Ever since Stephen Curry’s nasty fall during Game 4 against the Rockets, the game’s best sharpshooter has been off his mark. He has hit 26-of-73 (35.6 percent) overall, and 10-of-36 (27 percent) from three.

While other factors have been at play — the Cavaliers have played quality defense on Curry with Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova — Curry has hit contested shots all season. Then he was 1-of-9 on uncontested shots in Game 2.

Maybe there is a correlation between the fall and Curry’s poor shooting, but both Curry and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr deny any causation. Here is what they told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“Uh, no. that had nothing to do with it,” (Curry) said of the head contusion correlation. “I felt good … I feel fine. Just got to shoot better.”

“No, he’s fine physically, and shots come and go,” Kerr said when asked about the possible correlation. “As I said, we could have done a better job offensively of getting him some rhythm. Hopefully we can do that tonight, but it’s all part of the process. Nobody would say a word (about Curry’s slump) if it was the regular season. But it’s not, so the focus is on that. He’ll make them. He always does.”

Of course, those two are going to say there is no connection, what else are they going to say?

The reason I have trouble buying the fall and shooting slump are related: There was a week off between the end of the Houston series and the Finals, then two more games off between Games 1 and 2. That’s a long time to rest a sore body. I think it’s just a combo of good defense and him not finding shots in rhythm. 

I think it’s just a combo of good defense and him not finding shots in rhythm. Memphis did that to Golden State too, until the Warriors adjusted and they couldn’t. We’ll see in Game 3 if Charles Barkley was right.

Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert takes shot at Iguodala, Green’s defense on LeBron on twitter


Somebody’s feeling a little comfortable heading back home…

That’s Dan Gilbert, the owner of Cleveland Cavaliers poking a little fun at the defense of Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green on LeBron James. He did so with a decent use of humor.

Of course, if we said Matthew Dellavedova wanted a Stephen Curry jersey every time he grabbed ahold of it trying to slow Curry off picks this series Delly would have at least a dozen through two games. It’s the Finals and the Cavaliers have effectively turned this into a grit and grind series, so there’s going to be clutching and grabbing.

The officials are letting the guys play. As they should within reason. Yes, the NBA will admit that the referees have made some mistakes late in games, but it hasn’t swung games. I always go back to what one of my coaches said (and has been echoed by every coach working above a seventh-grade level in just about every sport):

If you don’t want the referees to make crucial calls late in the game, play better earlier in the game and take it out of their hands.

If the Cavaliers don’t blow a late double-digit lead, there wouldn’t have been an overtime where the officials had to make tough calls. The same principle applies to the Warriors — try hitting your shots first. The officials have not decided these games.

(Hat tip NBA Reddit)

LeBron James has ‘some other motivation’ he won’t talk about that’s fueling him in NBA Finals


LeBron James has been incredible through the first two games of these NBA Finals, even for him.

After going for 44 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Game 1, James followed that up with 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in the Game 2 victory, while playing an incredible 50:20 of a possible 53 minutes.

There are many motivating factors for him to lead his team to a title which seem to be obvious. James is trying to cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play this game, and rings are certainly relevant in any of those arguments.

There’s the whole Cleveland angle, the fact that James returned home specifically to bring the city its first major professional sports championship of the modern era.

And evidently, there’s something else.


After saying that he didn’t “need any extra motivation,” James hinted at secret factors that are driving him after the Cleveland Cavaliers tied the best-of-seven series against the Golden State Warriors at one game apiece with a 95-93 overtime victory Sunday night.

“My motivation is to make sure my guys are ready and prepared every night we step on the floor,” James said. “And I have some other motivation that I won’t talk about right now, but I have so many different things to worry about than being an underdog or guys counting us out.” …

So what could it be?

“I hope we win so I can tell y’all,” the two-time Finals MVP said when pressed by reporters.

Stephen Curry won the MVP award this year, even though James is widely-regarded as the game’s best player, so maybe that’s it. James wouldn’t want to discuss something like that at this stage while going up against Curry, for fear of slighting him in some way that could potentially become a distraction.

James reportedly left Miami while being on less than great terms with Pat Riley, so maybe he was challenged by something Riley said.

But my guess is that it’s something far less silly that’s driving him, which must be more meaningful and personal than either of those options.

Perhaps we’ll find out, if LeBron and the Cavaliers can find a way to win the series.

Golden State vs. Cleveland NBA Finals Game 3 Preview: Five Things to watch


Two games, two overtimes. Two games that could have gone either way. As a fan, you can’t ask for a more entertaining NBA Finals.

Game 3 Tuesday night is when the real chess match begins. After Game 1 the Warriors didn’t make many adjustments, they thought they had an off night in the opener and would simply hit more shots and play better in Game 2. Didn’t work out that way. With Matthew Dellavedova tracking Stephen Curry, the Cavaliers played better defense, the Warriors got out of rhythm and for a second game in a row everything was played at the Cavaliers pace and style. Now it’s on the Warriors to make adjustments.

Here are five things to look for in Game 5 from Cleveland.

1) Warriors will attack the rim and use that to create space. The Warriors have been here before these playoffs — they were down 2-1 to a physical, grinding Memphis team that had Mike Conley living in the jersey of Curry and taking the team out of its flow. I went back and watched Game 4 from that series and what you saw was Curry and the Warriors start to attack the rim — the were not hunting threes, they went to get their points at the bucket. Didn’t matter if Marc Gasol was there, they went at it, then used that to create space for threes off kick-outs. It worked, the Warriors won and didn’t lose again that series. Expect some of the same here, we already started to see it in late in Game 2 including the game-tying scoop shot.

“I was able to get to the paint a little bit more in the second half,” Curry said. “I didn’t finish many of them, but I was able to get in there and either make a play or try to  especially that last shot down the stretch in overtime  I mean of regulation.”

The Warriors are going to come off the picks and go right at the rim, even if Timofey Mozgov is there. How the Cavaliers handle that and how the Warriors finish around the Cavs bigs will be at the heart of deciding Game 3.

2) Can LeBron continue to control the tempo? Of all the monster numbers LeBron James has put up these Finals — the triple-double in Game 2, the 41.4 usage rate through two games — it has been his controlling of the pace of that been maybe the biggest key. This has been a slow, grinding series because he is comfortable at that pace and his patience with the ball is part of what has taken the Warriors out of their flow. The Cavaliers defense is getting the credit, but LeBron’s offensive tempo combined with the aggressive offensive rebounding of the Cavaliers has stymied the Warriors transition game. It has taken away the easy points. For the Cavaliers to keep winning, this cannot change.

3) Matthew Dellavedova vs. Stephen Curry. This is the matchup that got all the hype — and no doubt Dellavedova did a good job in Game 2.

“I don’t expect to shoot like this.  I’ve got to play better, find better shots and be more in a rhythm throughout the course of the game for us to really assert ourselves as a team,” Curry said after Game 2.

“It had everything to do with Delly,” LeBron said of Game 2. “He just kept a body on Steph.  He made Steph work.  He was spectacular, man, defensively.  We needed everything from him.”

As noted above, expect to see Curry start to attack the paint more off the bounce in Game 3, he’s not going to settle, he’s not going to hesitate. Dellavedova has played great defense all playoffs, that’s not about to change, but the Warriors will put a lot more pressure on him starting Tuesday night.

4) Would somebody knock down a shot. Please. I know both teams are playing good defense, but come on — the Cavaliers won Game 2 shooting 32 percent. J.R. Smith was 5-of-13, Iman Shumpert was 2-of-11, and Tristan Thompson was 0-of-5 and all at pretty close range. It wasn’t just the Cavs end of the court, Curry was 1-of-9 on uncontested looks. At some point during this series one of these teams is going to start knocking down their good looks, right? Right? Both of these games have been griding and ugly. Hopefully, a few more shots fall on Tuesday.

5) Fatigue. LeBron is averaging 48.1 minutes per game while carrying an insane load (41.4 percent usage rate). He admitted after Game 2 it’s getting to him a little.

“Did you see how I walked in (to the press conference)?  I’m feeling it.  I’m feeling it right now for sure,” LeBron said after Game 2. He also said he’ll have a couple days to recover and that he is built for this.

Still, at the end of games he lacks lift, he’s not been quite the same. Other players on the Cavaliers are logging heavy minutes, too, while the Warriors have a little more depth. The games now move to every other day for a few games, after having a week off, then a game, then a couple more days off. Will the fatigue and drain start to catch up to the Cavaliers? Or can they continue to put up these kinds of physical, grinding performances?