no. This was Ali Liston. Bowe-Holyfield. Fury Wilder.
This wasn’t basketball. This was heavyweight boxing, minus the bloodshed.
Golden State 107, Boston 97.
Game 5, here we come.
This was Stephen Curry looking back at the critics. This week, Tracy McGrady was the last to question Curry’s greatness. Speaking to NBC Sports Washington, McGrady, the recently inducted Hall of Famer, noted that Curry beat a heavily injured Cavaliers team to win his first ring in 2015 and needed an IV from Kevin Durant to collect two more. . “Steph wasn’t the best player on that team,” McGrady said.
He is the best player in this field. Trailing 2-1, against a generational defense, a hostile crowd, and in lingering pain from a foot injury — the same foot injury that cost Curry the last 12 games of the regular season — in Game 3, Curry turned in arguably his best playoff performance. He scored 43 points and collected 10 rebounds, making him just the fifth guard to score 40/10 in the final. He handed out four assists. He made 14 of his 21 shots, seven of his 14 threes and eight of his nine free throws. He scored more than the other Golden State starters combined. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors, five behind with 7 1/2 minutes to play, pulled out for a 10-point win.
“Beautiful,” said Steve Kerr.
Draymond Green said, “He wouldn’t let us lose.”
Scroll to continue
Indeed. But he couldn’t do it alone. And in a game, Golden State needed everyone to show up, many did. Andrew Wiggins amassed a career-best 16 rebounds, leading Golden State, who were beaten 47-31 in Game 3, to a 55-42 lead on the glass. Klay Thompson scored 17 points. Jordan Poole made 14 in. Kevon Looney, who was on the bench to start the game, grabbed 11 rebounds and finished a game-high plus-21.
Green had one of the worst games of his career in Game 3, coming under fire for his play (two points, 1-on-4 shooting) and his podcast. His shooting numbers were ugly in Game 4 (1-of-7), but he added nine rebounds and eight assists and showed what it means to stay ready. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Kerr Green pulled up and chose to defend offensively during the intermissions. With three minutes left to play, Green got back into the game. With just over a minute to play and Golden State at three, Green bounced a miss from Thompson and found Looney for a layup, extending the lead to five.
Beck: Will. jacket. LeBron. Steve Curry? There is a new definition of dominance.
“I had to keep my head in the game,” said Green. “And when I went back in, try to make some plays.
But this game was about Curry. There has been some debate in some quarters about Curry’s place among the best of all time. He’s the NBA’s best shooter…but not one of the best players of all time, at least not compared to them. In the aftermath of Game 4, Curry was greeted by his contemporaries. “Everyone keeps talking about what Steph isn’t,” Dwyane Wade tweeted. “Let’s talk about what he is.” Tweeted LeBron James, “THEY” will try to do everything in their power not to simply acknowledge how “DIFFERENT he is! It’s rare and rare is not liked and appreciated.”
“I think this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career,” Kerr said. “And it allows him to do what he does.”
He will have to keep doing it. Boston didn’t go down quietly. This match had 11 leadership changes. Ten times it was right. Jayson Tatum had 23 points. Jaylen Brown had 21. Derrick White, a thorn in the side of the Warriors, scored 16 on the bench. Better on the road (8-3) than at home (6-5) this postseason, the Celtics have a defense no matter where they play. They are 7-0 on losses and if it hadn’t been for a third quarter, a meltdown might have taken two in San Francisco.
“It’s the final and in the art of competition,” Tatum said. “They came here with the feeling that they had to win. It wasn’t easy, but that’s the beauty of it. That it won’t be easy and it should be. We both want it and we have to take it.”
The Celtics will be ready on Monday. It may take another blowout like Curry had in Game 4 to beat them again. If nothing else, Curry proved once again that he was capable of it.
More NBA Coverage: