Silly internet narrative: Stephen Curry has been terrible in the NBA Finals. He was very good in 2015 when they won the title; he failed to live up to his 2016 regular season – understandably – in the 2016 Finals when he was far from great, but certainly not terrible. Here’s an in-depth look at both Finals.
Stephen Curry, 2015 NBA Finals
Fully healthy and coming off an absurd series against Houston when he averaged 21-5-6 while shooting 51/49 from the field, Curry had an excellent NBA Finals against the Cavs. Andre Iguodala won the MVP award, but it could have been Curry. He averaged 26 points per game. He had 38 assists and just 28 turnovers. Curry did struggle mightily in Game 2, going 5-for-23 from the field and just 2-of-16 on 3-pointers, and the Cavs won in Golden State without Kyrie Irving, who was hurt at the end of Game 1. Curry’s best win: Game five, at home: 37 points (win). He also hit seven 3-pointers in Game 3 (loss). His numbers were right in line with what he did in the regular season: 23.8 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.4 rpg.
Stephen Curry, 2016 NBA Finals
The real problem with these Finals is that Curry didn’t do what he did in the regular season, when he had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. He was the 1st unanimous MVP in league history, led the league in scoring (30.1 ppg), steals (2.1 spg), free throw shooting, and broke all of his 3-point records. He shot 50/45/90, perhaps the best season any player has ever had. So naturally, he couldn’t live up to that in the Finals.
I subscribe to “No Excuses, Play Like a Champion,” but a month before the Finals, Curry missed six playoff games with an injured knee. He played well in a grueling 7-game series against the Thunder, finishing with 31-31-36 in the final three games to advance to the Finals. It should be no surprise Curry struggled in Game 1 (11 points). He was held to 18 and then 19 points in the next two games against the Cavs. Curry’s best performance was 38 points in Game 4, a road win at Cleveland that put the Warriors on the cusp of the title.
The Associated Press recap of the game is all about Curry – there’s a tiny footnote about Draymond Green’s “incident.” Curry was good in a Game 5 loss without Green, and Game 6 is when everything seemed to turn for him. The beloved Curry had a shot rejected by LeBron, who in a rare moment talked trash to Curry.
It seemed to rattle Curry. Two minutes later, he fouled out – he’d never even had five fouls in a game – and threw his mouthpiece.
That led to a rough Game 7 for Curry – 6-of-19 shooting, 4-of-14 from deep, and more turnovers (4) than assists (2). He was not himself.
Curry ended the 2016 Finals averaging 22.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, and only shot 40/40/92. This is not a bad series for an ordinary player – but for Curry, it was a down Finals. This isn’t as nearly bad as LeBron averaging 17.8 ppg (3rd on the team) in the 2011 Finals, only shooting 47 percent from the field with 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. That was a terrible series.