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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Curry lifts Warriors over Cavs to brink of repeat crown

The Warriors are within touching distance of history.

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry

NBA MOST VALUABLE Player Stephen Curry snapped out of a slump with 38 points and the Golden State Warriors reached the brink of back-to-back NBA Finals titles by defeating Cleveland 108-97.

The Warriors, who sank an NBA Finals record 17 3-pointers, seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can eliminate the Cavaliers with a home victory in game five Monday.

“Game five will be the hardest game of the series,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We have to understand this series is not over. Game five will be extremely difficult.”

NBA scoring leader Curry had struggled with shooting rhythm and foul troubles in the first three games but connected on 11-of-25 from the floor, including 7-of-13 3-point attempts, and 9-of-10 free throws. He had 13 points in the decisive fourth quarter.

“When I had the ball in my hands, I had to be assertive and decisive,” Curry said. “I didn’t have to deal with foul trouble. My teammates set great screens. We got the ball moving from side to side so I got some better looks off the ball.”

No team down 3-1 has ever rallied to win the NBA Finals and the Cavaliers’ first home playoff loss in nine starts dimmed their hopes of avenging last year’s finals loss to Golden State to become Cleveland’s first sports champion since 1964.

“We have to play with desperation, play to exhaustion and figure out how to win,” said Cleveland’s J.R. Smith. “It just sucks to be in this position. I don’t think there’s any doubting that we can do it. We’ve just got to ball out.”

Klay Thompson added 25 points and Harrison Barnes contributed 14, each hitting four 3-pointers, and Draymond Green grabbed 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who made 11 more 3-pointers than Cleveland and one more 3-point shot than they did 2-point shots, in large part to Curry’s revival of form.

“He’s the MVP for a reason,” Kerr said. “He doesn’t have the size and strength to dominate a game physically so he has to dominate with his skill and that’s not an easy thing to do because your shot sometimes isn’t going to go in.

“But he has a lot of faith in himself. He trusts his shot and he just kept firing and tonight they went in.”

- © AFP, 2016

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