The league’s back-to-back MVP has struggled to find a foothold through the first three games of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Steph Curry, who averaged 30.1 points per game in the regular season and 27.9 in Golden State’s series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, has just 48 total points and zero games with over 20 points in the Finals.
Curry scored 19 points—amazingly, his highest of the series—during Wednesday night’s 120-90 loss in Game 3, but 13 came in the third quarter, with the Warriors down by as many as 26 points. He had six turnovers in only 31 minutes, while watching much of the fourth quarter from the bench.
The Warriors are still winning the series, 2-1, but Curry knows that huge self improvement is needed.
“I have to play 100 times better,” Curry said, via NBA.com. “I didn’t play my game. I’m disappointed I didn’t help my team win.”
Curry didn’t have a three-game stretch without a 20-point game in the regular season. The MVP is still hitting three-pointers (he has 10 so far), but he’s not getting to the free-throw line (only four attempts) and he’s been extra sloppy with the basketball (15 turnovers). His minutes are also down (he is averaging only 30.1 per game), in part due to game situations—such as the blowouts in Games 2 and 3—but also thanks to his own foul trouble in the last two games.
The struggles are a flashback to last June, when Curry struggled to get going early in the 2015 NBA Finals. Something eventually clicked, with Curry hitting 14 threes and averaging 28.0 points and 6.3 assists as the Warriors closed out the Cavaliers with three straight wins.
Also remember: Curry had a game in last year’s Finals in which he hit 5-of-23 shots, including only 2-of-15 from three. Like all superstars, he is capable of turning on the switch and taking over the series at any second. Just ask the Thunder, who saw Curry score 30 or more points in three straight games to help Golden State come from behind and close out the Western Conference Finals.
Game 4 is still a big one for the MVP.
“I’ve got to be more assertive in my scoring and playmaking on the floor,” Curry said. “There’s a sense of urgency knowing how big Game 4 is, and I need to be ready.”