CLEVELAND -– Three games into these NBA Finals, the Warriors continue to await the arrival of Splash Brothers.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been present for all three games. But their superhero alter egos have yet to show up.
“Me and Steph, we’ll figure it out,” Thompson said Thursday. “But there’s no time to press and try to get our numbers.”
“We’re 2-1. We’re 2-1,” Curry said, referring to the Warriors holding a 2-1 lead over Cleveland in the best-of-seven series. “We’re up 2-1 right now and the story is still unfolding.”
The story that’s unfolding is the Warriors have managed to get in such good position without Curry and Thompson providing anything close to their usual production.
Also unfolding is the question of whether the Warriors can win the series without their All-Star guards playing at that level -– and where on earth will the Cavaliers turn if the Splash Brothers take the stage.
“We’re usually the better team when that happens,” Curry said.
Curry through the first three games is averaging 16 points, barely half of the 30.1 he averaged in the regular season. He’s shooting 43.6 percent from the field, well below his 50.4 regular-season percentage. He’s 40 percent beyond the arc, below his 45.4-percent regular season mark.
Thompson’s numbers have taken an even steeper drop. He’s averaging 12 points, down from his 22.1 in the regular season. He’s at 30 percent from deep, after shooting 42.5 in the regular season – and 44.8 through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Though both had some clean looks in Game 1, neither was able to take advantage. Those looks have been harder to come by in Games 2 and 3.
“They’re just trying to run me and Steph off the 3-point line as much as possible, and understandably so; obviously, we can both get hot from there,” Thompson said of the Cavaliers. “So we realize that we might have better success going to the rim or finding a teammate on the back side or just trying to play-make because they’re doing a good job of stopping our initial action.
“I’m just going to look forward to being more aggressive tomorrow night and not just settling for jumpers because it’s easy when you can shoot well. It’s not about settling at this point. It’s about trying to go out there and make the right play.”
Coach Steve Kerr believes, considering where the series stands, the ongoing focus on Curry and Thompson is out of proportion. The rumblings grew louder after the duo combined for 29 points as the Warriors were run off the floor in a 120-90 loss in Game 3.
“None of this was an issue when we were up 2-0,” Kerr said. “Neither one of them had huge games when we were up 2-0, but it didn’t matter because we won. Now we lose a game and these become huge issues. This is what the playoffs are all about – the spotlight and the speculation and the criticism and the dramatic change in perception about what’s happening.
“(The Cavs) win a game, now it’s our lineup changes and, ‘Oh my God, Steph Curry can’t play well.’ And, ‘What’s Klay going to do?’ When you go through the playoffs, you understand this is all part of it. And as a player, you have to feel that. Our guys felt it last year. Steph had a couple rough patches in the playoffs. We made some lineup changes. Klay maybe didn’t have his best series in The Finals last year.
“Who cares? It’s a team game.”
Well, yes, but the team is a lot more successful and has a lot more swagger when the Splash Brothers are dropping 3-pointers from all over the court. All it takes is one, sometimes, particularly if it’s Curry, and the rest of the team begins to feast.
“It’s a natural thing,” Curry said. “When I get going, I get more attention and get more bodies. Kind of like a magnet wherever I go on the floor. And there are open shots for other guys, including Klay. When a guy gets hot, usually that opens up things for other players on the floor. You love to see your teammate doing well and, kind of like in the Thunder series, where he went crazy in Game 6 and kept us in it, it got everybody going and everybody feeling good.
“So for us, that’s an important part of what we do. For how we started the game yesterday, neither one of us got going and gave us anything to kind of feel good about. So we’ve got to correct that for Game 4.”