After making an NBA-record 402 three-point shots during the 2015-16 season, it was unrealistic to expect Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry to match that long-range output this year.
Though he still made and NBA-best 324 threes, many felt Curry - who saw his three-point percentage drop from 45.4 percent last year to 41.1 percent this year - had a down season.
But, as the Warriors prepare for their third-straight NBA Finals matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he doesn't want to be counted among the Curry naysayers.
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According to The Mercury News, Lue said Curry's slight dip in production can be attributed to the addition of Kevin Durant to Golden State's star-studded roster:
“[Curry]’s a two-time MVP,” Lue said. “He’s a great player, a very dangerous player offensively. That doesn’t surprise me. You bring in another MVP, so you’re trying to figure it out and trying to figure how they can integrate Kevin Durant to their team. Steph took a little backseat to make sure everything worked right and then once the playoffs hit, he got back to his normal self scoring the basketball and being aggressive.”
Indeed, Curry has been playing some of his best basketball now that the postseason is upon us. As the Warriors have started this year's playoffs with an unmatched 12-0 record through three rounds, Curry has averaged 28.6 points and shot 43.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Even Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who hasn't been able to coach the team for most of the postseason due to health issues, said he thinks Curry has been great this year:
“It’s just been such a better progression for Steph this postseason,” Kerr said Monday. “Last year, right from Game 1 against Houston, he was injured and fighting an uphill battle. I thought he was amazing given the circumstances of his injury, but to me he looks fresher, faster, stronger than he did a year ago.”
Curry will need to be at his best if the Warriors are going to get revenge on the Cavaliers for last year's Finals upset.
As the elite squads prepare to face each other for a championship for the third-straight year, both will be trying to stake their claim as this generation's most dominant team.
After the Warriors won the 2015 Finals, the Cavs bounced back to take the 2016 title. However, with both teams currently in their primes, NBA fans may be in for a fourth-straight meeting in the 2018 Finals.
First, though, we'll take a few weeks to appreciate this year's Warriors-Cavs matchup and all it has to offer.