Curry regains confidence as Warriors gather momentum
Momentum is a powerful, fickle thing. And for the moment, at least, it belongs to the Golden State Warriors.
That's because in Game 4 of their NBA Finals showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was Steph Curry instead of LeBron James who played the star-saves-the-day card. Golden State evened the series with a 103-82 victory Thursday night.
Curry, dogged all series by poor shooting and that harsh burden that learning to win in the Finals is painful endeavor with no guarantees, rejuvenated his team. He scored 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, nailed four 3's and, in the first quarter, played with actual swagger. It was his game — and how he carried himself — rather than his box score which told the tale of the night.
And that fueled the whole team. Andre Iguodala, starting in a surprise move, had 22 points and eight rebounds. Harrison Barnes found his game, notching 14 points and eight rebounds. Draymond Green, too, made it happen, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
For the first time, the Warriors played at their pace, not letting LeBron James dictate the flow of the game. And so for the first time in this series, the Warriors were the team we'd been waiting on.
"We controlled the tempo and the rhythm of the game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "It's about playing every single possession like it's your last. And I thought tonight our effort took a step up."
For Cleveland, the King who'd carried his kingdom further and more impressively than any other player in the history of the Finals through three games hit a wall. Which felt, and looked, inevitable. James was tired; he was just 7 of 22, and he didn't have quite the same magic (though he still nearly recorded another triple-double — 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists) that had carried his team to its two wins.
The Finals are a funny thing, as LeBron well knows. You can feel like the series is yours after, say, Game 3, only to watch someone else lift that trophy a short time later. Momentum, fatigue, lucky bounces and the rising and falling of stars under such pressure — it is alchemy played on one of sports highest stages, and, as we said, there are no guarantees.
For now, we just know this: Steph found his groove, the Warriors found their strut, and the series goes back to the Bay Area with the favorite back in control.
But they still have to go through the greatest basketball player on earth, and we've learned in this series not to count him out, ever.