Curry said an injury he sustained late in Game 3 seemed less severe than the sprained foot he had in March that sidelined him for a month.
Near the end of the third quarter, Steph Curry drained a 27-foot three-pointer to put the Golden State Warriors ahead of the Boston Celtics for the first time since the opening minute.
It was also the last time that the Warriors led as they were overpowered 116-100 by the Celtics who took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals best-of-seven series.
A bad night became worse for Golden State when Curry dove to the floor in a tussle for a loose ball with Boston’s Al Horford who rolled onto Curry’s foot with four minutes left in the game.
Despite writhing in pain on the floor, the Warriors talisman continued to play before leaving the court two minutes later.
“We need him if we want to win this thing,” Curry’s fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson said. “I know Steph is going to do everything he can in his power to play. I am really hoping he’s OK because he’s our identity, and without him, it will be very difficult.”
Curry proved himself to be the only Warriors’ player capable of challenging the Celtics’ powerful defense which displayed its superiority late on, holding Golden State to 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Curry has been the Warriors’ top scorer for all three games so far in the NBA Finals.
He was the top scorer on Wednesday with 31 points and Golden State will be desperately hoping that he recovers in time for Game 4.
“Obviously, in some pain, but I’ll be alright,” Curry told reporters after the game. “See how I feel tomorrow and get ready for Friday.
“I don’t feel like I’ll miss a game. I’ll take advantage of these next 48 hours to get ready.”
Boston raced to an early lead helped by two three-pointers by Jaylen Brown — who led the Celtics with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists — in the first quarter. Boston’s advantage widened to as much as 15 points and the Celtics took a 33-22 lead into the second quarter.
The Warriors shot just 8-of-23 in the first while their scrambling defense conceded multiple fouls including three called on Curry in the first half.
But, as was so often the case this season, Golden State regrouped in the third quarter and embarked on 14-3 run, enough to erase the Celtics’ lead.
In Game 2, a third-quarter scoring flurry was enough to secure victory for the Dubs, but this time the Celtics found a way to fight back.
“I felt like our team really stayed poised in those moments,” Horford told reporters after the game. “As you know, earlier in the year, that could have gone south quickly.
“But we stayed right with it and just locked in and didn’t panic and just continued to play.”
Boston pushed back with an 11-6 run, retook the lead heading into the fourth and never trailed again.
Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Brown all contributed more than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists and became the first trio of teammates to accomplish this in an NBA Finals game since the Los Angeles Lakers’ trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper in 1984 — a series which coincidentally ended with a seven-game Celtics win.
Will this NBA Finals be an echo of that 1984 result? Game 4, which is scheduled for Friday, will provide answers.
Poised Celtics start fast, hold off Warriors for 2-1 lead in NBA Finals
BOSTON — Al Horford took a one-step drop, cocked the basketball behind his right ear and fired a cross-court laser that hit Jaylen Brown in stride, with nothing but daylight between the all-star guard and the rim.
On a night that saw the Golden State Warriors mount a furious rally in an attempt to steal a game they had no business winning, Brown’s uncontested dunk was one indication, among many, that the Boston Celtics had the requisite focus and opportunism to reclaim control of the NBA Finals.
Warriors notice basketball rim was too high during Game 3 warmups of NBA Finals in Boston
It wouldn’t be the NBA Finals without some good, old fashioned gamesmanship, and that might have been what went down ahead of Wednesday’s Game 3 at TD Garden in Boston.
Pregame warmups had to be paused because the rim on the Warriors’ side was slightly higher than the mandated 10 feet. Arena crews broke out the tape measure and then had to reconfigure the basket to adjust the height back to 10 feet.
The Warriors have their share of shooting talent, and when someone like Stephen Curry notices something is up with the rim, it’s probably worth investigating. It turned out that they were correct to be concerned.
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Obviously, the slightest adjustment to a rim can throw off a shot — especially given the muscle memory involved with shooting a basketball. It could have been an honest mistake, sure, since teams do switch sides after halftime. But arena staffs typically confirm the height of the rims well before the teams ever have a chance to shoot on them.
NBA fans understandably thought it was strange that this happened to the Warriors … in Boston.
NBA Finals: Warriors overwhelmed by Celtics’ athletic physicality in Game 3, and things will only get tougher
The younger, stronger Boston roster imposed its will on the Warriors from the jump.
The game was already well in hand when it happened, but there was still injury to be added to insult. Stephen Curry, who had suffered a foot injury just plays earlier, attempted to defend Marcus Smart on a drive with just over two minutes remaining. Smart, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound amalgamation of muscle, grit and determination, delivered a compact elbow to Curry’s midsection, causing the two-time MVP to limp painfully to the bench as he checked out for the final time.
Resignation? Perhaps not. But surely acquiescence … at least for one night.
The Boston Celtics took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals on Wednesday with a 116-100 Game 3 victory, and it’s not one that the Golden State Warriors will soon forget. They’ll have plenty of time to think about it while soaking in the ice tub and getting full-body massages, trying to prevent bruising and inflammation from the punishment the Celtics relentlessly delivered throughout the evening.
“Game 2, they brought the heat to us. For us, that left a bad taste in our mouth because what we hang our hat on is effort on the defensive end and being a physical team,” Smart said after the Game 3 win. “It definitely woke us up a little bit. We just wanted to come out, and if we were going to come out here and play, the last thing when we left that court we didn’t want to say we weren’t physical enough.”
Boston executed on its clear intention of getting to the rim early and often, outscoring the Warriors 52-26 in the paint for the game. The Celtics also displayed their force on the offensive glass, edging the Warriors 15-6, which led to a 22-11 advantage in second-chance points.
A trademark Curry heater made things close in the third quarter, but the Celtics quickly answered to put things out of reach in the fourth. More than anything, the Celtics just beat the Warriors up. It makes you wonder how Golden State, whose key players are in their 30s, will hold up if the series continues against a mostly young, athletic Celtics team that, as Smart said, takes pride in its physicality.
Jayson Tatum didn’t have the best shooting night Wednesday, but once Curry got into foul trouble, he used his size and strength advantage to get to the basket with little to no resistance.
Curry wasn’t the only one to take the brunt of the Celtics’ brawn. Al Horford nearly sent Otto Porter Jr. into the stands with this shoulder bump in the first quarter.
In one of the biggest momentum plays of the game, Jaylen Brown — who was brilliant offensively — came up with a tremendous defensive stop on Klay Thompson. First, Brown beat Thompson to the spot and bodied him up, forcing him to change directions and nearly poking the ball away in the process. Then Brown recovered and used his length to cut off the pass to the corner. Finally, Brown stayed connected as he trailed Thompson on the cut through the lane, then used his athleticism and timing to erase the shot at the rim. Truly remarkable stuff.
When it comes to offensive rebounding, sometimes teams can get inflated numbers due to long caroms off of 3-pointers or random bounces here or there. But the Celtics earned the bulk of their offensive rebounds through determination and strength. Watch here as Horford establishes position, then outworks THREE surrounding Warriors to secure the rebound. He misses the put-back, but it’s indicative of the type of effort and physicality the Celtics played with all night.
“I thought the offensive rebounds were just a killer. … That was really the difference in the game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We made several stops, especially in the second half where we had a chance to cut into the lead or make a little push, and they got offensive boards. Those were tough.”
Overall, it just seemed like the Warriors were being sent to the floor more in Game 3. Nothing was easy, and the Celtics’ size advantage was never more prevalent. Robert Williams III had four blocks and three steals — and it seemed like a whole lot more. His length and leaping ability turned even the most cautious of floaters into kindling for his incendiary rejections.
“We’ve talked about just being aware of where he is because especially depending on who he’s guarding, he can kind of come out of nowhere,” Curry said of Williams after Game 3. “There’s a play early in the fourth, I got by Grant Williams and thought I had daylight to get a shot up, and you underestimate how athletic [Robert Williams III] was and how much he could bother that shot.”
In case you’re wondering what play Curry’s referring to, here it is. Williams doesn’t even come into the frame until the last second, and suddenly the ball is on its way to the stands at the speed of a Shohei Ohtani fastball.
We knew the Warriors were at a size, length and athleticism disadvantage heading into the series, but the ramifications were truly apparent in Game 3. Boston found success going small to close its Game 1 win, and then went to big, bruising lineups down the stretch Wednesday. The Warriors’ only true answer for size is Kevon Looney, who only played 17 minutes in Game 3 after averaging 23 minutes over the first two games.
If the Warriors go big, they sacrifice shooting and spacing on the offensive end. If they go small, they run the risk of what happened Wednesday: getting buried on the glass and dominated in the paint. It’s a conundrum, and one that Kerr and his staff will have to contemplate carefully as the series progresses.
“That’s the game for us. We have to factor in what’s happening on the floor, what we need, do we need floor spacing, do we need better rebounding,” Kerr said after the loss. “So we weren’t able to find that two-way combination other than that stretch in the third when Steph really got hot. Couldn’t find the right combination to strike that balance.”