Curry missed four of his first five shots, including all three 3-pointers. Some of them wrong.
But after hitting two straight 3s late in the third quarter, Curry rose to the occasion. As the Celtics called timeout, he flew to the other end of the field, shouting and pointing:
STEPH IS CRAZY 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MsnpUV7kzm
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 11, 2022
Green got the message.
“He wouldn’t let us lose,” Green said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
Curry scored 43 points to lead Golden State to a 107-97 victory on Friday. His best performance in an NBA Finals that already included some gems puts him in an even stronger position to claim the honor that has so sadly eluded him.
Since Jerry West won the first NBA Finals MVP over the losing Lakers in 1969, everyone averaging 32 points per game in the first four games of a Finals has won the Finals MVP or lost the series.
Curry is averaging 34.25 points per game against Boston, among the most in the first four games of an NBA Finals:
Curry shoots well. He went 7 of 14 from 3-pointers, 7 of 12 from 2-pointers and 8 of 9 from free throws on Friday.
But its volume really stands out.
Curry’s Finals use percentage (33.6) is higher than anyone in the last twelve years except LeBron James in 2015, when he did so much to carry the Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love injured. Curry’s use even surpasses LeBron in 2016, another year he really put Cleveland on his back.
Somewhat paradoxically, Boston’s elite defense makes Curry even more aggressive. Without weak links and several exceptional defenders, the Celtics can stop Golden State’s more complex actions in the half court that spread around the ball. That leaves the Warriors to create for themselves, and who better than Curry to do that?
Golden State no longer has Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson is no longer the same after his injuries. Although many are too quick to forget, Green was used to assisting a lot more offensively.
Now so much is falling on Curry.
Who, not for nothing, suffered from a foot injury.
“This man’s heart is,” Thompson said, shaking his head, “amazing.
Not only did Curry have such a high offensive output, but he had 10 rebounds. He also continued to set a fiery tone with multiple demonstrative celebrations and a two-footed stomping reaction after the referees again failed to call a foul as he touched a jumper.
Curry has scored more in a Finals match once before. He had 47 points in Game 3 against the Raptors in 2019. Golden State of course lost that series.
After all these years of debating Curry’s play in that final round and especially his lack of a Finals MVP, he’s putting in his best Finals showing in any other series the Warriors could lose. The teams are tied 2-2 in Game 5 Monday in San Francisco.
It’s too early to tell what this game, what these finals will mean for Curry’s legacy. Fair enough or not, Golden State almost certainly needs to win for Curry to claim Finals MVP. The bar to even remember positively in a Finals loss is LeBron-esque.
But one night the Warriors needed him more than ever — as a scorer, as an energizer — Curry pulled through.