NBA Finals tied at 2, Celtics try to stop Stephen Curry

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SAN FRANCISCO — As the Boston Celtics searched for answers to keep Stephen Curry from reaching these NBA Finals, they knew that even their best defense wasn’t always good enough.

“Stephen Curry, in case you haven’t noticed, is amazing. He can shoot unbelievably,” Boston guard Jaylen Brown said Sunday. “Even watching the game, against the game, even in the final, I feel like he’s improving a little bit. He was very good in the fourth game and we have to respond to that.”

Whether the Celtics can do better with the two-time MVP will be a key as the best-of-seven series resumes Monday night at the Chase Center in a 2-2 tie.

Coach Ime Udoka called on the Celtics to mix things up and strengthen their physicality after Curry’s 43-point masterpiece in Friday’s 107-97 win over the Boston Warriors.

Udoka will allow his guards some leeway in deciding where to start pressing the Golden State superstar — usually from beyond the arc, with the big man ready to assist.

Curry made 14 of 26 shots, made seven 3-pointers and grabbed 10 rebounds. Once he finds a rhythm, he can hit the ball from anywhere, even with a defender’s hand on his face. But Udoka realizes that the career 3-pointer can quickly become a dangerous playmaker too.

“Obviously the range is a little bit wider. Some of the shots he’s hitting are just shots he can hit, and there’s a lot of competition,” Udoka said. “He hit a few.”

Curry, 34, had the second-best scoring performance of his career on the Finals stage — trailing only his 47 in Game 3 of 2019 against eventual champion Toronto — and joined Michael Jordan and LeBron James joins as the only player aged 34 or older to score at least 40 points in the finals.

So, for Curry, is watching the movie clips from Friday’s game as much fun as he does watching the game?

“Whether you play well or not personally, you always know what’s going to happen at the end. It’s like watching the end of a movie. It’s good to know that the movie ended up being great,” he said.

“But I think it’s more important to balance looking at what works and try to understand the patterns so you can repeat that in the next race. Maybe foresee some adjustments that might happen. Try to slow down and try to be one step ahead. At the same time, watching a lot of different reactions in the crowd and on the bench and things like that. It’s always some good entertainment.”

Klay Thompson posted on social media that he jumped into the bay for an open water swim on Saturday.

“The ocean heals mind, body and soul,” he wrote.

Curry’s Splash Brothers had 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting in Game 4. Thompson’s 35.8 percent field goal percentage is the lowest of any NBA Finals he’s ever played in, and his three-point percentage is just 34.2 percent, down from 58.5 percent in last season’s 2019 Finals.

Monday will mark the third anniversary of his injury in the Finals, the Warriors’ decisive Game 6 loss to Toronto, and the Raptors’ first title at Oracle Arena. Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, required surgery, and began to miss more than 2 1/2 years. During that time, he also tore his right Achilles tendon and required repair.

When told he was 3-0 in purple game sneakers, Curry could only laugh and hope he wasn’t cursed now.

And, no, he wasn’t tracking that obscure statistic.

“I don’t even know, so I appreciate you,” Curry said. “If I knew the record now, I don’t know if it would affect the juju there. I have a lot of different colors, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Let me start thinking about it now too.”

Celtics center Robert Williams III is still dealing with his troublesome left knee soreness. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in March before returning in Game 3 of the first round against Brooklyn. The Celtics continued to monitor him, though Udoka said the 6-foot-9 big was better Sunday.

Boston didn’t find a specific moment in the film that showed Williams could again aggravate the soft knee.

“Do better, rest day, rest, same as today and tomorrow, optimistic he’ll be fine,” Udoka said. “But we will test before the game as usual.”

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