It’s easy to get lost in the dominance the Warriors have displayed the last three seasons, making an NBA Finals appearance each year. Let’s not forget that our beloved Warriors came from humble beginnings and were merely the darlings of the NBA, just happy to be in the playoffs.
There was a time — long, long ago (2013 to be exact) — where things were different. Before Kevin Durant, before Steve Kerr, even before Andre Iguodala. Before the two championships, and before the two MVP trophies. The landscape of the NBA was a bit different back then from what it is today. The Warriors were the underdogs. The bandwagon was not as heavy.
In this episode of Golden Moment, we revisit Game Four, Round One of the 2013 NBA playoffs. The Warriors (the six seed) were facing off against the Denver Nuggets (the three seed) at Oracle arena. The Warriors led the series 2-1 coming into game four.
Why go back to some random round one game from over four years ago? Because this was the moment when Stephen Curry set the world on fire (or at least NBA Twitter).
Playoff Steph was born.
Entering ROARacle Arena
This was the first Warriors playoff game I had ever attended. I had a chance to go to a playoff game in 2007 during the “We Believe” season, but I was merely a broke college student. Finally, having some disposable income, I got to attend this game accompanied by my college buddy Arpan.
Walking into the arena, you could feel the buzz, that playoff atmosphere. Oracle was dripping wet in gold.
The game was fairly close mid-way through the third. The Nuggets were a well balanced team with capable play-makers on both sides of the ball.
The Third Quarter
And then, Curry snapped midway through the 3rd quarter and took over.
I put together a collection of gifs from key moments during the 22-point outburst during the 6.5 minute stretch in the 3rd quarter.
Houdini no-look trey - Now you see me, now you don’t. Curry slips away from his defender and finds an open three in the corner. This shot hadn’t even hit it’s apex and Curry is already heading back on defense. All nine other players had their eyes on the ball as it was on its way up.
We have become used to this lately, but good lord. How many players can get away with running back in transition while their shot is still in the air? This is pure confidence. This was the bucket that got the “Curry flurry” started.
High-Low - We only had Jarrett Jack for one season, but he was a hell of lot of fun to watch on the court. Plays like this show how pleasing it was to have the two play-making guards on the court at the same time. Jack dribbles the ball into the corner, drawing a few defenders, then turns violently and whips it over his head to Curry at the top.
I love this play because Jack looks so freaking dope trying to make something out of nothing, slinging the ball over to Curry like his damn life was on the line. Curry catches it near his ankles and still hits the three in stride.
JaVale with the assist - Oh, hey look, it’s our dear friend and NBA Champion JaVale McGee! Except he’s on the other side of the ball. If you want to really enjoy this play, just watch Wilson Chandler the whole time. He is completely befuddled with the direction of the ball. I could probably watch him in this gif all day.
Curry tried to slip a no-look pass to Klay Thompson under the rim. The play turns into an AND-ONE mixtape shot as he throws it off McGee’s arm, which gets batted away, then recovered by Curry as he tosses a layup off the glass.
This reminds me of that time Jason Richardson threw it off Carlos Boozer’s head and nailed a three in the Rookie Sophomore all-star game (video). Curry pulled the entire Nuggets defense towards him and had just about everyone fooled.
No Limit - Just watch all the Warriors players on this play. You have Thompson off in the corner just standing around. Draymond Green is in the high post trying to back down McGee begging for the ball. Jack is on the other wing, pumping his fist and yelling. I would like to think he was pumped up because he knew the shot was in, but it’s probably because Jack was wide open and didn’t have a defender within 5 feet of him. This was the Mark Jackson offense, lots of isolation plays.
Curry signals for Festus Ezeli to cut to the rim. Does it even matter? Curry pulls up from way down town with the whole Denver defense crowding his path to the rim. Old man Andre Miller is the causality on this play. Bang-bang!
Spin Cycle - Curry is a magician on the court: not only by his ability to take advantage of shot opportunities with his quick release but also by how bad he is able to make good defenders look. It’s quite gratifying, because with the videos and gifs forever memorialized on the internet, we have this ammo at our disposal. Here we have another dear friend and TWO TIME NBA CHAMPION x NBA FINALS MVP x ALL NBA DEFENDER, Andre Iguodala looking mighty foolish.
Curry is able to strip the ball away from Ty Lawson and dribbles it up court. Iguodala tries to cut in front of Curry to cut him off, loses him as he goes right, then loses him again as Curry cuts left. Meanwhile Iguodala gets put in a spin cycle and just gets lost on the play. Dazed and confused. Then Curry nonchalantly throws up an off balance three and nails it right over Lawson.
Wait, now we have to take a body count. How many All-NBA defenders did Curry make look foolish?
1) Chris Paul - An unforgettable one: Link
2) Rudy Gobert - This one is golden: Link
3) LeBron James - This one is fresh off this years NBA Finals: Link
We almost have a whole team with Iguodala included. A growing list indeed.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!
22 points in 6.5 minutes.
8-of-9 from the field (4 three-pointers).
Light ‘em up Steph. LIGHT ‘EM UP!
Warriors took the game 115-101 and took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. The electricity in the crowd was off the charts that night. This was the first year Curry had entered his All-Star trajectory and I like to claim this to be the birth of playoff Steph. The moment when he arrived on the national stage and became a force to be reckoned with. This will forever be ingrained in my mind and heart, as I was able to witness it in person.
There were some great moments during the regular season like the MSG game, which Patrick wonderfully breaks down here Golden Moment: The Day Steph Saved my Soul (MSG 54 point game)
For full highlights, here is a summary of Curry’s incredible 3rd quarter as explained by BBall Breakdown:
Which All-NBA Defender did Steph make look the most foolish?
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