Everyone was making Stephen Curry jokes at halftime of Game 3. While some believe the media gives the seraphic Steph a pass, fans love to tear down an MVP — even one as so decent as the Dubs point guard. So, the Delly as Daddy Twitter juvenility pervaded much of the first three quarters of Game 3 Tuesday night.
But when the final session started, all of a sudden — with David Lee in the Lazarus of Bethany role — Curry found the rhythm that had alluded him for all of Game 2 and three-fourths of Game 3.
Here are some of his more ridiculous buckets in a final session that saw him score 17 of his team-high 27 points on the night on a 6-of-9 final frame, including 5-of-8 from deep.
And we’re not just talking open shots in the corner. Even his one shot from below the 3-point arc’s break had Tristan Thompson lurking after Delly made the mistake of trying to split the gap:
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Curry started his hot shooting with a little under 4 minutes left in the third period, when the Cavs had just taken a seemingly insurmountable 68-48 lead. That’s when Steph came down, put a slick crossover on Delly, but then just pulled up from 28 feet to rip nylon.
That’s simply not fair.
The same could be said when Steph worked the high screen with David Lee and Tristan Thompson was forced to defend the MVP when he was cooking. This crossover into the 3-pointer is a good example of why the Cavs need to scheme to avoid an isolated TT on Curry at the top of the key:
That shot made it 77-73 with around seven and a half minutes left. Curry came right back and hit a reverse layup when Thompson was again stuck on him at the top of the arc. But Steph wasn’t just torching Thompson. We already saw him knock down a 3 in Dellvedova’s face in the third, but he did it again off a pin-down screen in the fourth. This quick-release triple made it 80-81 with under 3 minutes to play.
That’s when Delly hit a remarkable and-1 bank shot in the paint with Curry mugging him the whole way. That was followed up by a LeBron 3-pointer that made it 88-80 all of a sudden.
But just like the Cavs when Kyrie went down, Steph wasn’t done either. Trailing 88-80, he came down and used a high David Lee screen on Delly, to get free for a moment, fake a crossover on Thompson and drill another ridiculous 3 from the top of the arc.
After that is when Curry hit the corner 3 in Thompson’s grill to make it 92-88, but LeBron came down and sank a pair of free throws to make it 94-88 with 27 seconds left. This is when — even with LeBron adding a third performance to a Finals triumvirate we’ve never seen before in NBA history — Steph made us fall off our couch.
That’s not figurative, either.
The triple-screen along the 3-point arc was genius, specifically Dray’s last screen on Thompson, but Steph navigated the whole thing with his left hand and then got the ball out before Timofey Mozgov, slightly out of position behind the arc, could block the shot.
It had us stupefied.
All game, LeBron was ripping through Golden State like this was his chance to turn into a deity rather than simply the best basketball player in the world. Conversely, Steph looked like his demure younger brother. Then, all of a sudden, the baby-faced assassin was back.
It didn’t end up being enough, obviously, as Cleveland took a 2-1 series lead, and can take a commanding 3-1 lead if they can win at home in Game 4 on Thursday. But Steph’s final 15 minutes should give Cavs fans drunk on James some pause.
A 2015 NBA Finals win isn’t going to be easy for either team.