One vintage performance from Stephen Curry silenced any critics, as his exceptional 3-point shooting moved Golden State one win away from becoming the seventh team in league history to capture consecutive championships with a 108-97 victory over the Cavaliers Friday night.
The scoring barrage wasn’t immediate, but once it began, there was no slowing down Curry.
“The way that they were defending and have been for most of the series, they’re trying to take away our perimeter shot,” Curry said. “I had to be assertive and decisive with what I was doing. I was in between in Game 3. ”
The 6-foot-3 guard scored 24 of his 38 points in the second half, as he connected seven times from 3-point range.
Along with his precision shooting, Curry was much more in command of the offense, limiting his turnovers and igniting the ball movement that has transformed Golden State into an offensive juggernaut.
Each possession was critical in Game 4, the lead changed hands on 18 occasions throughout the night, as Golden State didn’t take control of the contest until a 3-pointer from Harrison Barnes two minutes into the fourth quarter gave the team a lead it wouldn’t surrender.
The loss was the first Cleveland had surrendered at home during the entirety of the 2016 post season, as the team ran out of answers for the Warriors on the perimeter.
Golden State set an NBA Finals team record by connecting 17 times from beyond the arc, as the team sustained much more success the further it went away from the basket.
By the end of the night, the Warriors hit one more shot from 3-point range than they did inside the arc and shot 47.2 percent from downtown, but only hit 35.6 percent from 2-point range.
Cleveland appeared to be pulling away at the beginning of the second half, as Kyrie Irving extended its advantage before the clock even started, converting a foul shot as a result of a technical foul called on Golden State coach Steve Kerr at the end of the second quarter.
Then the vaunted backcourt duo of Curry and Klay Thompson started to heat up, connecting five times from 3-point range in a five minute span, wrestling a two point advantage away from the Cavaliers to start the fourth quarter.
Thompson showed no ill effects from a collision with Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov, resulting in a thigh contusion, as he submitted his best performance of the series.
The two-time All-Star poured in 25 points, his highest scoring effort of the series, as he connected on 4-of-9 attempts from 3-point range.
According to Thompson, he was just feeding off of Curry’s flurry of shots from beyond the arc.
“When you have Steph’s range and handle, we’ll take that shot every day,” Thompson said. “I mean, he’s our MVP. He makes us go, so we follow. He played an amazing game. I’m proud of the way he competed and everyone else fed off that.”
Even on broken plays, Curry managed to connect from long range.
The shot that sparked Curry came early in the second quarter, as Andre Iguodala had the ball slapped out of his hands as it drifted towards the Golden State bench.
Curry rushed in, picked up the loose ball, planted his feet and swished a shot from the corer, as he avoided contact with Channing Frye.
The physicality of the Cavaliers took a visible toll on Curry, as he couldn’t shake free for an open look. In Game 2 and 3 combined, Curry managed just 24 shot attempts.
The confidence appeared to be drained out of Curry, as he committed 10 turnovers and dished out just seven assists during the two game span.
Curry launched 25 shots Friday night, dished out six assists and turned the ball over just three times, his fewest during the championship round.
The handle, step back jumpers and signature splash following his release were enough to move Golden State one win away from recapturing the title.
“We needed to bounce back individually as a team to figure out how to get a win on the road and put ourselves in pretty good position,” Curry said. “We answered the bell … I think we got back to enjoying the process and the challenge of winning playoff games, especially in The Finals.”