The Golden State Warriors blew a 15-point third quarter lead and lost to the Boston Celtics 120-108 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Warriors two-time MVP Stephen Curry had a Finals-record six first-quarter threes and looked on his way to a huge scoring night. But after that hot start he was never able to really keep that going. Curry is rarely allowed to go over 40 minutes in a game by head coach Steve Kerr, but given that this is the Finals maybe Kerr can push the envelope?
“It’s the latter. But it’s also understanding how the series develops, at most, we got six games left. Make the necessary adjustments,” said Curry.
“Like I said it’s about winning four games by any means necessary, and for 42 minutes, we did enough to win a game tonight, and that’s not how basketball works. I think everything starts to come on the table when you look at trying to get ourselves back in the series on Sunday and taking it from there.”
During the regular season Curry averaged 34.5 minutes and during this year’s playoffs he’s at 33.9.
AN NBA FINALS RECORD SIX THREES IN THE FIRST QUARTER FOR STEPH CURRY 💰 pic.twitter.com/VANGrC2j8Q
— ESPN (@espn) June 3, 2022
Since Kerr took over as head coach in the 2014-15 season, the most minutes Curry has averaged in the postseason is 39.3. Playing 40+ minutes isn’t something he’s had to do a lot of. Now a good reason for that is the Warriors were an overwhelming force, particularly in the years they had Kevin Durant. There was no need for Curry to play heavy minutes.
This series feels a little different. It’s the Warriors’ sixth Finals in the past eight seasons, and they’re older than they were in 2015 during that first title run. But as Curry said, there are only at most six games left in the season. There is no guarantee they’ll be back next season. It’s now or never if they want to win another title.
It’s only one game so it’s not time to do anything major. The Warriors did have a 15-point lead and it took a 15-for-23 shooting night from three from Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Derrick White for the Celtics to win.
The other thing is Curry moves around a ton when he’s on the floor. Does he have the gas in the tank to do that for 40+ minutes at the end of a long season?
If the Warriors win Game 2 on Sunday and Curry plays his customary minutes there will be nothing to discuss really. This is the rest pattern he’s had his entire tenure, and it’s worked out well.
Now, if he’s feeling it like he was in game one Kerr might want to consider extending him. Players often talk about rhythm and feeling in the flow or the zone. Another hot start from Curry could build a bigger early lead and force the Celtics to press and play differently.
Before the Warriors start thinking about extending minutes, they need to be more disciplined defensively and apply more pressure to the Celtics offense. In Game 1 the Celtics’ defense bothered the Warriors’ offense more than the other way around.