There are demarcation points in every season, a quick note here and another one there, pivoting themselves as the hallmark moments. For the Golden State Warriors, it's been Stephen Curry's show from start until now and all the way until the finish line. He started it all with the vanquishing of Anthony Davis, reminding us that he still stood atop the mountaintop as the rising young star in the NBA. From there he annihilated the all-time record for 3s made, crip-walked on Oklahoma City's home court, single-handedly kept the dream for 73 alive in a SouthEast road trip, and is now forging a brand new chapter in the postseason for the ages.
It started with a bang, then an ankle injury, then a gruesome knee injury, and now The Return. For the culmination of his regular season work, Steph received the MVP trophy in unanimous fashion. On the court, there was no doubt who was the best point guard, the best player, and the greatest closer in the game today.
And Steph himself on the final shot, "Just let your mind free and have confidence."
One behind-the-back dribble to the right, one to the left, one more to the right, lurching forward out-of-control ever so slightly before pulling back creating just enough daylight for the nearly simultaneous quick release and instant roar of the crowd as the ball singed through the net. As Curry slipped the dagger in one more time to close out the series, putting the Warriors up by 5 with little time remaining, he turned around to the crowd drinking in its adoration. It's his league, his time, his team, his arena, his era, and very much his moment.
As Coach Steve Kerr describes later, "That step-back shot. It's probably a shot only he can make."
Terry Stotts chimed in later after praising the Warriors on their season, "He's a special player that can do special things. That's why he's MVP, that's why he has a championship, and that's why they won 73."
And for the Warriors, these games are becoming somewhat of a rerun. They're coasting through first halves, keeping it close throughout the second half, perhaps even climbing back from a deficit with just enough defense and clutch shooting, then allowing Curry to take over in the end.
Draymond compared this season's team to the last, "I wouldn't say we're better, but we're seasoned and that may make us better."
In essence, the Warriors just know how to win these games, know what plays to make in each situation, and aren't afraid to take and make the right decisions and shots. After every single game, Lillard has bemoaned his team's lack of ability to execute in the fourth quarter. With years and series of experience in the past few seasons. the Warriors are relying on their veteran guile to pull out these games. For a team manned by Thompson, Curry, and Draymond, it's the scary combination of youth and veteran leadership that's sending them past these opponents.
And for Stephen Curry, his team is just eight wins away from solidifying themselves as the greatest team of all time while pulling off the greatest single season of all time. It started with Curry, it's going through Curry right now, and it will end with Curry. It's his moment.
1. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Steve Kerr effusively praise the Portland Trail Blazers on a great series. Kerr started the presser by congratulating them and their unique offensive style. Thompson said it was the tightest 5-game series ever. And Green went on a tangent on how much he respected the Blazers after a Thunder-Spurs question. Safe to say the Warriors are glad to see this team gone.
2. Klay Thompson produced what Curry termed as, "The best series I've ever seen him play." From chasing Damian Lillard around all game along with creating for himself and others when Curry was out while keeping the shooting efficiency, it's hard to argue against the MVP. Unlike last season where Thompson seemed to wear down as the postseason went further, it appears this postseason is something of a coming-out party.
3. It would appear that Harry B is at least in great running shape.
4. Andrew Bogut suffered an abductor strain and we know how even the smallest injuries can take him out for weeks. It will be interesting to see who the Warriors play as they will need Bogut a lot more in a series against the frontcourt of the Oklahoma City Thunder than the San Antonio Spurs.
5. After the game, Damian Lillard said he told Steph, "I told him he deserved MVP." He went on to say he told Steph to ignore all the older players trying to diminish this award and what he has achieved. Seems like Lillard is a big fan and friend of Curry's.
6. The Warriors are still bringing regular season intensity to some of these postseason games. That was some awful defense in the first half the past few games. It will and might cost them against a better postseason team but the point is that they do this against lesser ones. We will see if this becomes a serious issue soon enough.