OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored 47 points in a 123-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night. It was the most points he has scored in any postseason game in his career, besting the 44 points he put up in the 2013 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.
Despite Curry’s offensive brilliance, the depleted Warriors didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the absence of Klay Thompson [hamstring], Kevin Durant [calf] and Kevon Looney [costal cartilage fracture], falling behind 2-1 in the series.
The good news for Golden State is that Thompson is expected to play Friday, and the Warriors are cautiously optimistic that Durant also will make his return for Game 4 at Oracle Arena.
Thompson was a game-time decision on Wednesday, but ultimately, the Warriors’ staff made the decision to hold him out, despite the All-Star swingman pushing to play.
“The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out of the rest of the series,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “So that was the decision we made, and I feel very comfortable with it. Never would have forgiven myself if I played him tonight and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you make, you make a wise decision, the wisest one you can, and then you live with it and move forward.
“So the good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; now he has a couple more days to heal, and hopefully he’ll be out there on Friday.”
Kerr later told the Athletic he expects Thompson, who injured his left hamstring in the fourth quarter of Game 2 in Toronto, to play in Game 4.
As for Durant, Kerr noted before Wednesday’s contest that the two-time Finals MVP continues doing more each day in his workouts and is on track to participate in some 3-on-3 scrimmages on Thursday.
“We probably won’t practice, practice as a team, tomorrow,” Kerr said. “It will be a film session and a walk-through. So if possible, we’ll get him together with some of our young guys, maybe a few of our coaches and try to get him out on the floor. That would be the next step.”
Durant hasn’t played since injuring his right calf on May 8 in Game 5 against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. If Durant does return Friday for Game 4, Warriors forward Draymond Green has no doubt Durant will be able to quickly pick up a rhythm with his teammates.
“That’s a good problem to have,” Green told ESPN. “That’s a much better problem than trying to make up for what he do. So we’ll take that problem.”
The Warriors remained upbeat after Game 3, not only because of the potential return of both Thompson and Durant in Game 4, but because of Curry’s performance. The two-time MVP hit shots from all over the floor, single-handedly carrying the Warriors offensively through much of the night. Curry finished 14-for-31 from the field, 6-for-14 from beyond the arc and 13-for-14 from the free throw line, while chipping in eight rebounds and seven assists in 43 minutes.
“He was amazing,” Green said. “I got to play better and offer him more help. I think if I played better with the night that he had, we would have won. So we need him to continue to be aggressive like he’s been, and all of us got to continue to fill in and be better … tonight was a special performance for him, and he definitely does stuff that I don’t think we have ever seen anyone ever do, and we probably won’t see anyone ever do it again.”
The reality is that the absence of Durant and Thompson was just too much to overcome. The Raptors repeatedly hit big shots to stifle any Warriors run, as Golden State struggled to find an offensive answer to augment Curry’s performance. The next-highest-scoring Warrior was Green, who finished with 17 points.
“I think wisdom prevailed in terms of this is a potentially seven-game series,” Curry said, regarding the decision to hold Thompson out of the game. “And you would like to take advantage of tonight, but his overall health is important in terms of not taking away the rest of the series with something catastrophic happening. So hopefully he’s back for Game 4.”
Despite the setback, the Warriors remain convinced that they will ultimately pull the series out, a fact Green reiterated as spoke at the postgame podium.
“Not having anyone makes a difference because everyone — when you assemble a team, everyone brings something different,” Green said. “But no one cares if guys are hurt. Everybody wants to see us lose. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt. We just got to continue to battle and win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game 5, come back to Oracle, win Game 6 and then celebrate. Fun times ahead.”
In a season full of emotional twists and turns, the Warriors walk into Friday’s game knowing that they may not only go down 3-1 to a talented Raptors team, but they may also be playing their final game in Oracle Arena. After 47 years in Oakland, the Warriors will move to Chase Center in San Francisco this September. It’s a scenario that Green and his teammates aren’t even contemplating as they hope to get both Thompson and Durant back and even the series on Friday.
“We’ve got a lot of experience,” Green told ESPN. “We’ve been in every situation possible, so no need to panic.”