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OAKLAND, USA – NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry says it could take the best game of his career for the Golden State Warriors to beat Cleveland in Sunday's, June 19 (Monday, June 20 in Manila) winner-take-all title showdown.
The Cavaliers have won the past two games after trailing 3-1 in the best-of-7 series to force a decisive seventh game at Oakland, where NBA scoring champion Curry has had some of his most magnificent games.
"I need to play my best game of the year, if not my career, because of what the stakes are," Curry said.
"That doesn't mean scoring 50 points, though. That means controlling the tempo of the game. I need to be aggressive, but when I need to push the envelope, do it, but do it under control. Do it within the schemes that we're used to as a team. Focus on details on both ends of the floor.
"All those things go into having a great game, and I need to do that."
Curry says it is vital that he individually has a great performance in Game 7 as well as working within the Warriors' deep team schemes offensively and defensively.
"Four out of the 6 games I've played pretty well to my expectations, my standards, so I need to take it up another notch for Game 7.
"That's what the greats do."
Either the Cavaliers will complete the greatest comeback in NBA history – no team has ever rallied from 3-1 down to win the finals – and the Warriors will suffer the greatest choke in finals history or the Warriors will cap a campaign that included a record 73 regular-season wins from 82 games with a crown and hand LeBron James his fifth loss in 7 NBA Finals appearances, including his third defeat in a row.
Season failure if no title
Curry made it clear the Warriors' historic season, the most successful in NBA history with 88 combined season and playoff triumphs, will be a failure if it does not end with a championship celebration Sunday.
"Yeah, pretty much because that was our goal from the beginning," Curry said. "We're here on Game 7 with a chance to do it. We've had two chances already and haven't gotten it done – 48 minutes to do it.
"So if we come up short, we'll all be very, very disappointed. No two ways around that."
Curry said the Twitter postings from his wife, Ayesha, have not been a distraction for him. She has complained about James, said fouls against her husband in Game 6 were part of a conspiracy to extend the series before later apologizing and accused security in Cleveland of racial profiling for how they treated her father.
"There is nothing really that's going to distract me from what's happening on the court," Curry said. "What's between me and Ayesha is the conversations about what happened. That doesn't take any spotlight off of what my job is on the floor.
"I might have to cut the Wi-Fi off at my house, though."
Curry said that he was happy with the mental attitude of his teammates after their Game-6 loss Thursday in Cleveland.
"Everybody is kind of encouraging each other, understanding the opportunity that we have in front of us," Curry said. "The plane ride back yesterday was fun because we were very light. The attitude was really positive. So I like where we're at mentally and that needs to kind of transition over to the game."
Dad's pride a driving force
Curry's father, Dell, played in the NBA from 1986 to 2002 with a handful of clubs but never reached the NBA Finals. His eldest son hopes to give him a special US Father's Day gift by winning the crown.
"He has been huge," Curry said. "Didn't experience kind of the emotions or the spotlight and whatnot, but having teammates that have done it before and just knowing the ins and outs of the game, that kind of wisdom is invaluable, for sure.
"What he has said is just be yourself and you can be fine with that. Don't need to change. Don't need to do anything special. Just be yourself, but play hard. Have the right intentions about what you're doing on the floor and usually things work out.
"I want to make him proud. So that is a huge driving force for me." – Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse/Rappler