Off-the-boil Curry eyes repeat

Warriors centre Andrew Bogut holding his knee in pain during Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Australian will miss the rest of the Finals.
Warriors centre Andrew Bogut holding his knee in pain during Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Australian will miss the rest of the Finals.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MVP point guard unconcerned over form heading into Game 6 as Warriors shuffle starters again

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • The Golden State Warriors lost starting centre Andrew Bogut for the remainder of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals through a knee injury. They, however, welcome back key forward Draymond Green from a one-game suspension today.

More crucially, they are hoping that their most potent attacking threat - reigning Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry - can somehow emerge from an uncharacteristic series slump to guide them past the pumped-up Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 this morning (Singapore time).

Should they lose, that would mean a second straight best-of-seven series in which the Warriors have to go the full distance, and the toll on their seemingly ailing superstar Curry would intensify further.

Since the NBA regular season started in late October, Curry has logged 3,240 minutes of playing time - 54 hours of inviting and absorbing contact from defenders.

The Warriors are on the cusp of more history, having already set an NBA record by winning 73 games in the regular season, but Curry is feeling the weight of injury and fatigue.

As the play-offs have gone on, he has adopted the garb of a weekend warrior sweating it out during noon-time hoops: protective sleeves on both knees, a gargantuan ice pack occasionally strapped to his right shoulder.

  • 54

  • Hours of playing time chalked up by Stephen Curry, who is feeling the effects of injury and fatigue this season.

Yet the Warriors point guard has continued to dismiss questions about his health.

"Whoever said I was getting shoulder surgery and all that kind of stuff - we've got bumps and bruises. But we'll be all right," he insisted.

Three questions remain: His mysterious shoulder ailment and his tender right knee; his sloppy decisions in the Finals, which have led to 22 turnovers over five games; and his match-up with Kyrie Irving, who was able to shake Curry off en route to 41 points in the Cavaliers' 112-97 victory in Game 5.

As for expectations?

"I don't really worry about it," Curry said on Wednesday. "There's kind of a historical expectation of the all-time greats in this league that have had great Finals moments and have had these numbers. None of them play for this team and understand how I try to help my team every single night."

For four years, he has avoided serious injury - a stretch of durability that came to an end last month in the Warriors' first-round series against the Houston Rockets.

After spraining his right ankle in Game 1, Curry returned for Game 4 and sprained his right knee when he slipped on a wet spot on court.

He missed two weeks but returned to help the Warriors close out the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Curry was explosive at times - in his first game back, he set an NBA record with 17 overtime points - but lacked his usual consistency.

It is the same story in the Finals.

The three-time All-Star is averaging 22.2 points through five games, well below the league-leading 30.1 points per game he averaged during the regular season.

Curry acknowledged Game 6 will be the biggest of his career and said he is ready to be a champion again.

He said: "I want to honestly play better and more consistent, but the situation is right now, we're one game away from winning a second championship. I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win."

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CLEVELAND V GOLDEN STATE

Game 6: StarHub Ch202, 8.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Off-the-boil Curry eyes repeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe