A lot happened in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. With their backs against the wall, the Golden State Warriors fought for a pivotal 107-97 victory on the Boston Celtics' home floor to even the series at 2-2. While a highly-competitive series, it was the first matchup of this year’s finals that remained close from the opening tip into the final minute. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr benched Draymond Green at multiple points late in the fourth quarter for the first time in years.
Yet, on the other side of a beautiful 48 minutes of basketball, there’s only one thought I keep having over and over again: there is only one Steph Curry. Everything else feels unimportant.
Dub Nation was obviously hoping for a bounceback game from Draymond Green or a scoring explosion from Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson, but none of that happened on Friday. Instead, Curry, who has already been clearly the best player in this series, who clearly suffered an injury in Game 3 that is still causing him pain, arguably played the best game of his NBA Finals career.
Golden State got some significant contributions from several role players. Andrew Wiggins had an inefficient 17 points and recorded 16 rebounds. Thompson and Poole were far from exceptional but combined to score 32 points on 13-for-30 shooting from the field. Kevon Looney continued the best postseason stretch of his career with 6 points, 11 rebounds, and a game-high +21 plus/minus.
Yet all of that would have been meaningless without Steph. Curry has already established himself as one of the best players in NBA history. Regardless of this series, Steph will be an all-time great. But this still feels like a legacy series. Still feels like an opportunity for Curry to move into conversations that most folks outside of Dub Nation have refused to ever put him in.
The Celtics had no less defensive talent in Game 4 than they have had all year. They still have several players with an exceptional combination of length and athleticism to throw at Curry, who is often on the floor with multiple non-shooters who make it even easier for Boston to key in on him. Yet, he finished 14-for-26 from the field (7-for-14 from three) with 43 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Warriors may not be able to win the NBA Finals this year. The series is still tied up at 2 heading back to San Francisco and the Celtics have gotten far more consistent performances from most of their best players. Yet, that makes Curry’s dominance in this series even more awe-inspiring. Thompson, Poole, and Green have all been inconsistent and sometimes even net-negatives on the floor throughout the series. When that many pivotal players struggle, it usually spells the end in the finals.
Unless you have a player that special.
Unless you have Steph Curry.
The Warriors and Celtics will now get the weekend off as they travel back to the west coast for a pivotal Game 5. Opening tip is scheduled for 6:00 PM Pacific Time on Monday, June 13th.