The Golden State Warriors are winning this series because of Steve Kerr's adjustments. Because Draymond Green can guard big men better as the series rolls along, or as he says, "like wine, I'm better with time." They're up a commanding 3-2 after two blowout wins because Andrew Bogut is back to owning the paint. Because Andre Iguodala has caught Klay Thompson's perpetual fire. Because the league's best defense hit another level and scatter-shot everything in sight. But you know where this is needed. The Golden State Warriors are here, ready to advance to their first Western Conference Finals for the first time in ten centuries because of that one guy, and he knows it.
The Warriors were down 12 at one point late in the first quarter. The crowd started strong, perhaps its strongest since the first game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Slowly but surely, the cheers and oohs turned into moans and groans as turnovers seeped into the building.
Stephen Curry struggled through the first three games. He airballed a deep three late in Game 3, shaking his head after, and causing an eruption of takes that welded thoughts of him having the Memphis Grizzlies entrenched in his head and how jump shooters can't excel in the postseason. The concerns got to the point where Draymond Green had to drag him out of his hotel in Memphis for some late dinner. In the middle of a playoff series, an innocuous dinner in downtown Memphis now seems like the turning point in Curry's career.
Back to the first quarter against the Grizzlies, with the game perilously similar to Game 2 and 3, and the haze of Game 4 still perhaps flukey in our head. And in the next two minutes, Stephen Curry changed everything. There was a transition 3 off a broken pass from Shaun Livingston. There was a steal as Curry hounded Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih from behind. There was the patented off the high PNR screen into a three. The final shot, the grasp of the moment so finally evidenced. Curry grabbed the rebound at midcourt, shoved off Udrih, took Zach Randolph for a merry-go-ride on the left side, spun the ball between his legs, rocking into rhythm and dancing the entire while.
Then Oracle Arena caved into itself. Not because of the shot, because it was gorgeous, succinct, and everything worthy of your favorite soliloquy. But because Stephen Curry knew the moment, snatched it from everyone in the entire area and released it from his chest, screaming into the roaring abyss, waving his arms repeatedly, not so much asking for the people to cheer but for them to stand in the moment with him.
It was the loudest I've ever heard Oracle in that moment and the most emphatic and wild Stephen Curry has ever acted in the seasons I've watched and covered him. The entire regular season has led to this moment, to the coalescing of everything he has accomplished. He can share it with his teammates, with his fans, and with himself. He's the best player on the best team in the entire National Basketball Association. When the Memphis Grizzlies came out and buzz-sawed the Warriors into the ground, Curry sensed it, ripped the moment from their paws, and savored every little flavor for himself.
Like it will work out for the rest of these playoffs, every game Stephen Curry plays immediately becomes the biggest of his career. Game 6 in Memphis affords him the chance that the greatest players in the league treasure, and ultimately annihilate. The Grizzlies have a chance. They had a chance in Game 5. Then Curry smashed everything apart. It's his moment, his time, and every single cliché can confirm this as the overriding narrative of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. He's shown up biggest when the pressure has threatened to suffocate lesser basketball players. The smart money is on him realizing that he'll need to do that again.