Breakfast Special: Now Steph Knows How LeBron Feels

Granted, Shaun Livingston is not J.R. Smith, but for Stephen Curry, his 47-point, 14-of-31 shooting, 6-of-14 from three and 13-of-14 from the line, eight-rebound, seven-assist gem of a game, one of the greatest performances in defeat in NBA Finals history, was wasted in a listless 123-109 loss in Game 3 as the Toronto Raptors grabbed back home-court advantage.

Not since LeBron James‘ 51-point, 8-rebound, 8-assist performance last year, which was ruined when Smith lost track of the clock and launched a thousand Internet memes has one player done so much with his teammates just standing around watching.

Although on the other hand, this is the third straight game in which Golden State has scored 109 points, so maybe the variable isn’t Steph and maybe it isn’t the absence of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

The Warriors are just setting a par score and their defense isn’t up to the challenge of surpassing it. Toronto has scored 118, 104, and now 123 in their three outings, if nothing else providing a bit of variety to the proceedings.

Considering Toronto’s 114.4 unadjusted points per game (and 113.1 Offensive Rating), scoring 109 seems a recipe for losing the series no matter if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are healthy or not.

But man, what a wild performance for Steph, who would’ve taken on all five Raptors like a basketball version of Bugs Bunny playing one-rabbit baseball if coach Steve Kerr had let him.

Of course, Toronto’s win didn’t just come because Steph played alongside a bunch of scrubs. It helped, but we’ve seen the Raptors blow mediocre performances before. They had to get over the top.

They were helped in that aim by Kawhi Leonard scoring 30 points on 9-of-17, all five starters plus Fred VanVleet (11 off the bench) in double figures, a 20-of-21 free throw shooting performance as a team, a 52.4/44.7/95.2 FG/3PT/FT shooting split, and just generally playing incredibly sound, well-contested basketball for 48 minutes.

There was no super third quarter for Golden State. Toronto won the third frame 36-31.

There were no Draymond Green triple-double heroics. Green had 17 points, but it came with just seven rebounds and four assists.

Shaun Livingston played terribly, as during the entire regular season, he attempted four fewer three-pointers than Ben Simmons and had the same number of makes (0-of-2 for Livingston, 0-of-6 for the Least Improved Player in Philadelphia.)

The only other Warrior in double figures besides Steph and Dray was Andre Iguodala with 11, and it speaks volumes about the Warriors that the three guys who tried to salvage this dumpster fire were three of the stars from that first championship run way back in 2015.

This series is down to whether Kevin Durant plays Game 4. If he sits, and if Klay sits, Toronto wins the series in 5. If he plays and plays effectively, the Dubs could rip this one back in Toronto and win the series in six.

But for now, Steph looked a lot like LeBron. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

First, and most importantly, let’s take a moment to give Kawhi Leonard the credit he deserves for his professionalism. James Harden would’ve flopped. Marcus Smart would’ve acted like he’d been shot. Kawhi took the contact and kept playing.

Steph was valiant in defeat…

Pascal Siakam continues to establish himself as greatness-in-the-making:

Kyle Lowry is not here for anyone’s criticism in the playoffs:

Danny Green, draining threes like it’s All-Star weekend and he’s pulling them off racks:

And, of course, your man of the match and Finals MVP in potentia, Kawhi Leonard:

Game 4 is coming. There will be features (yes, plural) this weekend. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!