OAKLAND – Even if he can make most of the shots he takes, Stephen Curry still believes strongly about displaying teamwork and empowering those around him.
With the Warriors without a dependable scorer (Kevin Durant), shooter (Klay Thompson) and role player (Kevon Looney), the Warriors could not simply rely on their so-called “Strength in Numbers” philosophy. They needed Curry to make long-distance heaves, navigate endless double teams and offer steady leadership.
Yet, Warriors still needed more. The Warriors labored through a 123-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday at Oracle Arena, and the reasons had nothing to do with Curry. It had everything to do with the Warriors failing to complement Curry with a dependable supporting cast.
Curry did everything he could to prevent the Raptors from taking both a 2-1 series lead and home-court advantage. Curry finished with 47 points while shooting 14-of-31 from the field, 6-of-14 from 3 and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line, marking his highest scoring output in a Finals game through the past five years. Even if Curry has collected three NBA titles, two regular-season MVP’s and countless shooting records, he could not single-handedly carried the Warriors.
Not when the rest of the Warriors shot a combined 22-of-60 from the field and from 6-of-22 3. Not when DeMarcus Cousins finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes two days after having an inspiring Game 2 with 11 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks and two steals in 28 minutes. Not when the Raptors offered too much Kawhi Leonard (30 points), Kyle Lowry (23) and 3-point shooting (17-of-38).
Still, Curry did everything he could possibly do. He made countless floaters and 3’s. He dove for looseballs and forced jump balls. He scrapped for rebounds (eight). When he did not have an open look, Curry became a playmaker (seven assists).
The good news for the Warriors: help might be on the way. After missing the past eight playoff games because of a strained right calf, Durant might return for Game 4 on Friday should he complete a scrimmage successfully on Thursday. Thompson might show enough progress in his injured left hamstring to return, too. The bad news for the Warriors: Curry will need help if he has to play without his two All-Star teammates for at least another game.