Stephen Curry shocked the Celtics with an instant classic on Friday night at The Garden, and the impact of that performance on the momentum of the series might prove to be seismic.
Warriors 107, Celtics 97
Series: TIED 2-2
I spent much of the day on Friday watching HBO’s Winning Time (I know I’m way behind), so I couldn’t help but think of the Warriors as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1979-80 Los Angeles Lakers. Underdogs taking on the big bad Celtics at The Garden.
Sure, the roles are actually reversed, Steph Curry and the Warriors have been doing all the winning the last decade, and the Celtics are the young team looking to start their winning time, but for one night, the Warriors were the team on the ropes. Steph Curry’s ankle was a question, the Celtics were two wins from an NBA title, and Boston had home court for Game 4.
Stephen Curry made sure I remembered not to count the Warriors out of anything with a masterful performance in Boston last night. 43 points. 10 rebounds. Fifty-three percent shooting from the floor. 50 percent from deep. Eight of nine from the charity stripe.
Curry silenced The Garden but had the NBA world buzzing on social media about his instant classic performance.
A man who knows a thing or two about masterful performances as a visitor at The Garden, Magic Johnson, was among a bevy of NBA currents and greats sharing their appreciation for Curry’s greatness.
Curry moved into a tie with another Lakers legend, the late Kobe Bryant, for the fourth most 30-point performances in the NBA Finals since the ABA/NBA merger in 1977, with 13 such instances. Curry’s head coach Steve Kerr had a first-person look at the man with the most such performances, Michael Jordan. Still, Kerr was stunned by Steph’s Game 4 masterpiece.
“Just stunning,” Steve Kerr said. “The physicality out there is, you know, pretty dramatic. I mean, Boston’s got, obviously, the best defense in the league. Huge and powerful at every position. And for Steph to take that — that kind of pressure all game long and still be able to defend at the other end when they are coming at him shows you, I think, this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career, and it’s allowing him to do what he’s doing.”
Steph scored 10 of his 43 in the fourth quarter. The Celtics scored 19 points in the final frame as a team. Boston had no answer for Curry in the fourth quarter as he refused to let the Warriors lose and fall into a 3-1 hole in the series.
There’s been plenty of banter about the fact that Curry has three NBA Championships but no Finals MVP. Well, if the Warriors can pull this out in the end, that storyline will be dead. Curry’s Game 4 master class was the kind of performance that defines that award, and more importantly, it might be the performance that haunts the Boston Celtics if they come out on the wrong end of history in these Finals.
Boston had the Warriors right where they wanted them before tip-off on Friday night. With the series heading back to the bay on Monday even at two-a-piece, the momentum is back in Golden State’s corner squarely.
If Golden State can win two of three with two of those three games on their home floor this week, the Warriors will have ring No. 4 of this era, Curry will have his Finals MVP, and the Celtics will remember Game 4 of the NBA Finals as the moment they almost beat Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Here are the highlights from last night’s game courtesy of NBA.com’s YouTube channel: