Whatever LeBron James is doing these days during the first NBA Finals he’s missed since 2010, it’s enticing to envision him kicking up his feet somewhere in a Los Angeles mansion watching the proceedings Wednesday night with a big glass of red wine in hand and one thought caroming around his mind.
Not so easy, is it Steph?
The washed-up remains of an NBA roster that we will technically call the Golden State Warriors lost Game 3 at Oracle Arena 123-109, which was really the only result that made sense under the circumstances.
What itmeans in this most unusual series, which the Toronto Raptors now lead 2-1, is anyone’s guess. Over the next few days, the Warriors could get Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant back in the lineup and be completely fine against a Raptors team that still doesn’t act like it should be trusted. Or they might not and lose the series in five. Who knows.
But if nothing else, watching Curry try to pull this off should bring one thing into crystal-clear focus for the crowd that likes to peddle the nonsense that a player’s greatness is proportional to their record in NBA Finals: Context matters.
It matters for Curry, who took the whole thing on his back but couldn’t quite drag Golden State over the finish line. And it matters for James, whose 3-6 record in the NBA Finals is routinely wielded against against him as evidence that he’s not a closer or not as good as Michael Jordan or whatever the television yell-fest narrative of the day is.
As Curry hunted shots like he was back at Davidson and finished with 47 points, it was impossible not to think about how the tables had turned from 2015 when the Warriors won their first title. By the time James and the Cavaliers arrived at that series, Kevin Love had been lost to a shoulder injury and Kyrie Irving, who had been struggling with injuries for much of the playoffs, was ruled out after Game 1 with a fractured kneecap.
That left James with a cast of characters that somewhat resembled what the Warriors were able to put around Curry in Game 3. But whereas Golden State still had Draymond Green, the Cavs’ second-leading scorer in that series was none other than Timofey Mozgov.
“It’s no secret that we’re a little injury-plagued,” Curry said. “We’re going to compete no matter what happens, you can count on that. So just got to execute and play smarter, and no matter who is out there on the floor, do what you got to do to win. It’s the Finals, man.”