To this day, basketball fans debate whether the NBA Finals might have played out differently if the Warriors had not gone for the regular-season wins record. They got the record, of course, but they also looked worn down by June. Unanimous MVP Stephen Curry looked as tired as anyone, and he also battled nagging knee and ankle injuries.
The heavy underdog Cavaliers took the series 4-3, leading many to question just how off Curry was. And now the respectably outspoken Golden State coach Steve Kerr has admitted his superstar’s injuries forced him to make a “few adjustments” to the gameplan.
“We made a few adjustments in terms of play-calling and actions that we tried to run,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area Tuesday. “But there’s only so much of that you can do. It’s still about flow and rhythm and pace. We tried a few different things—and let’s not forget, he was phenomenal in a few games.”
Curry had games of 38, 25, and 30 points (games 4-5-6), but he also struggled with turnovers and on defense. In the waning moments of Game 7, Cleveland’sKyrie Irving isolated Curry and drilled a three in his face. On the next possession, Curry struggled to get past the comparatively slow-footed Kevin Love.
“Steph didn’t play his best against Cleveland for some of the series, but he had huge games in other parts of the playoffs, which got us to that point,” Kerr said. “That’s all a part of it. And if we had won the last game, nobody would’ve cared about Steph or his struggles.”
Kerr is right, obviously: Curry was a big reason they got there, and they still camethis close. But what could have been? Curry has admitted he didn’t have a great series. Still, in hindsight, neither nor Kerr would have done anything differently.
“We didn’t hide anything,” Kerr said. “If there had been a diagnosis, we would have told you. We don’t hide stuff like that. He was banged up. But that’s not an excuse. It’s not an injury; it’s just that the reality of the season and it kind of hit him at the wrong time, given that everything started in the playoffs and carried through.”
You’ve got to love Kerr for being real about this. You’ve also got to believe Curry is coming into next season determined. He was recently deemed unstoppable; now he’s the guy who couldn’t handle the grind of a full season and chucked his mouthguard when he realized it was falling apart.
If we’ve learned anything from Curry’s career, it’s that what happens next will be must-see TV.
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