CLEVELAND – The Warriors have been waiting for this. They knew it was coming, that at some point during these NBA Finals, their MVP would resurface and look the part of the MVP.
And there he was, Stephen Curry, in the second half of Game 4 Friday night, taking over at the pivotal moment of the series and pushing the Warriors to the brink of another championship.
There was Curry’s wingman, Klay Thompson, rolling hard right alongside, as the Warriors raced to a 108-97 victory over the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
“He’s our MVP,” Thompson said of Curry. “He makes us go, so we follow.”
Curry, averaging 16 points through the first three games, fired in a game-high 38, 24 of which came during 19 second-half minutes as the Warriors wiped out an eight-point deficit and took command.
Thompson, averaging 12 points over the first three games, finished with 25, with 14 coming in the second half, when the Warriors outscored Cleveland 58-42.
“I don’t know that the shots were that much better than they’ve been, I just think they got going,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Sooner or later, it’s going to happen.”
It was a stellar recovery for both, at a time when the Warriors needed a jolt of offense.
The Splash Brothers were back. For the first time since escaping the seven-game brawl that was the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City, Curry and Thompson looked as they had throughout most of this season.
Like long-distance, sharpshooting, cold-blooded basketball assassins.
Thompson buried a pair of treys in a 38-second span during the third quarter that fired up his teammates, including Curry, whose 3-pointer with 4:07 left in the third quarter gave the Warriors their first lead of the second half, 72-69.
Curry conceded that he was crisper and much more aggressive than he had been in the previous two games, during which he also was plagued with foul trouble.
“I had to be assertive and decisive with what I was doing,” Curry said. “I was in-between in Game 3. I obviously didn’t have to deal with foul trouble, so I was on the floor a lot more. And my teammates set good screens.”
Curry piled it on in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points, including 6-of-6 from the line as the Warriors pulled away.
With Curry (seven 3-pointers) and Thompson (four treys) leading the way, the Warriors dropped in 17 shots from deep to set an NBA Finals record. They looked like the team that led the league in 3-pointers, as well as 3-point percentage.
“With guys like that, you can’t keep them down forever,” Kerr said. “Sometimes our best offense is our defense, and we were making stops and were able to get out and run and kind of flow into our offense.
“So maybe they got a few extra looks from that. But, mainly, it was just kind of the law of averages took over.”
Warriors forward Draymond Green had another explanation.
“He’s a competitor, and he’s been under a heavy microscope – and rightfully so,” he said. “A two-time MVP, you’re expected to have great games in The Finals. He struggled in the first three. But tonight, he was that guy.”