BOSTON — There was a lot for the Golden State Warriors to digest after their 116-100 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. But after trailing 2-1 on the series, their superstar status was the highest of their minds, Stephen Curry†
With 4:16 remaining and the Warriors at 12, Curry dove to the ground to try and capture a loose ball. He was met by Boston’s Al Horfordand as the two struggled to secure possession, Horford rolled on top of Curry’s left leg.
Curry lay on the floor for a few minutes, writhing in pain.
“I saw him deaf,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So I picked up on my mistake by pushing people off him because he’s yelling at the bottom of the pile.”
Curry came with a noticeable limp.
“Sure I’m in some pain, but I’ll be fine,” Curry said. “We’ll see how it reacts. There’s nothing more to say. I don’t feel like I’m going to miss a game. Take advantage of the next 48 hours to prepare.”
As Curry entered and exited the press conference room after the game, he walked cautiously, trying not to put any real pressure on his left foot.
Curry said the injury was close to what he sustained against the visiting Celtics in March when he sprained his foot in a similar game he was involved in. Marcus Smart† That game resulted in Curry overloading his left foot – the same foot that was hit in Game 3 – and missing the final month of the regular season. Wednesday’s injury, Curry said, felt less severe.
†[Horford is] a big body, of course,” Curry said. “I haven’t seen the piece, so I don’t know if it could have been avoided or not. I was in that situation with Marcus back in the bay, and you just want to get your foot out of there. That’s all I was trying to do at the time, knowing what position I was in. Like I said, for how I feel, it’s not that bad. So hopefully it will respond well in the next two days.”
“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said sternly.
Losing Curry, even for just one game, would hurt the Warriors’ title hopes. Even a busted Curry wouldn’t bode well for Golden State.
During the first three games, Curry was the Warriors’ best player and the only source of consistency. In Game 3, he scored 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including six 3-pointers. He finally got some help from Splash Brother Klay Thompsonwhich ended with 25 points, but that was in exchange for a largely absent Groen.
Groen scored only two runs and had no impact on the defense. He didn’t give the level of focus or intensity that he had given the Warriors earlier in this series. And he made a mistake when he came to the rescue of Curry in the late scrum.
“I was s—,” said Green, his son by his side as he answered questions from the media. He later called himself “soft.”
Green’s performance didn’t stop Celtics fans from constantly raining down “F — you, Draymond” chants all night.
“We’ve played for rude people before,” Thompson said. Dropping F-bombs with kids in the crowd. Really stylish. Well done, Boston.’
Golden State Guard Jordan Poole contributed 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting, but continued to struggle to find a meaningful way to influence his team.
Boston made Curry work for every shot he took, choking him in defense all night. The Celtics kept Curry in a transition attempt to just two tries after averaging five such plays per game in the first two games.
They also forced Curry out, as he fired just three field goals from within 10 feet of the basket. (He combined for 12 such attempts in Games 1 and 2.)
“Their staff and the way they defend are very physical,” Curry said. “They have a way of being quite aggressive, with Marcus on the ball of course, and Robert [Williams III] behind the game, they usually have a lot of length and size on the wings.”
Unable to drive to the rim and make contact, Curry attempted only one free throw – a blatant foul 1 penalty in the third quarter after Horford was deemed not to give Curry enough landing space on his 3-point shot.
“I don’t know why there is only one free throw,” said Curry. “It felt like there were a few possessions or plays that could have gone my way.”
The last time Curry had just one free throw attempt in a playoff game was in 2018.
“It’s hard to understand the flow of the game based on some of the calls that went my way where I have four and have to defend you in a certain way because you want to stay on the ground and don’t want that to affect has at stake,” said Curry. “But you know, you still have to find a way to be effective, whatever the game is called, and it’s a good lesson to learn for the next game.”
The Warriors’ loss was not due to the difference in free throws. (Boston shot 24 to Golden State’s 15.) But it had to be the physical level at which the Celtics played.
Boston defeated Golden State 47-31, including 15-6 on offensive boards. The Celtics also outperformed the Warriors in the paint at 52-26.
“That was really the most important point – the defense of the attack point,” Kerr said. “They came past us. It wasn’t based on sets they ran, it was more like they were coming downhill at us, and they were coming past us, and that hurt us.”
The Warriors trailed by 18 points in the first half. But just as they have every game in this series, they played a great third quarter, even taking a lead shortly after a seven-point possession late in the period. But they were unable to hold out in the fourth, leading the Celtics to close the game.
The Warriors know they need to find a way to play more consistently for 48 minutes. They know they need to bring the power they found in Game 2 victory. They know they need to get more contributions in the rotation.
But they all know none of this matters if Curry isn’t available.
“We need him if we want to win this,” Thompson said. “I know Steph will do everything he can to play. I really hope he’s okay because he’s our identity, and without him it will be very difficult.”
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