Stephen Curry returned to playoff action after missing more than a month with an injury and he didn’t miss a beat, carrying the Golden State Warriors to a win.
Stephen Curry is back.
Two years after he saved the Warriors from danger against the Portland Trailblazers with a historic performance, he came back to carry them once again. Curry was simply the best player on the floor, as he usually is.
A few days ago I foolishly wrote that Curry might not be the same right away. He had played only 25 minutes of basketball since March 9th, a layoff that would have caused most players–even great ones–to be rusty. Luckily for the Warriors, Curry is a different type of monster.
Curry is just wired differently. Immediately after checking in, he ran around a pick and knocked down his first three-pointer in over a month. Later, he lost the ball near halfcourt, saved it from bouncing into the backcourt, and then pulled up from about 30 feet with 15 or so seconds left on the shot clock and splashed it.
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Someone who hasn’t done an activity in a long time shouldn’t be able to get thrown into the most intense version of that activity and thrive. And yet, that’s what Curry does. He makes very difficult things look very easy.
It was the best of the two-time MVP. He provided the spark that his team had been missing. They finally looked like a team that could win a championship.
Greatness starts with a mentality. In order to be great, you have to sacrifice. Curry has done that time and time again, and he did it once more in last night’s contest.
Curry came off the bench as Steve Kerr decided to stick with Nick Young in the starting lineup. Days after Carmelo Anthony made it very clear that, despite his poor season and even worse postseason, he wasn’t going to be accepting a lesser role. With no ego and only the team in mind, Curry had no problem playing as a reserve in his return to action.
Then it was the Curry show. Kevin Durant struggled early and Klay Thompson never found a rhythm so the point guard took the lead. Curry did his work quickly and efficiently, scoring 28 points in just 27 minutes on only 15 shots.
Curry was a +28 in his first game of the playoffs. The next best mark for a Warrior was Kevon Looney at +7. Durant and Thompson were -5 and -8, respectively.
It’s just one game, but it was the type of performance that’s indicative of just how special Curry is. He changes everything when he steps onto the court and that’s before even getting the ball, let alone taking a shot. His gravity opens up a lot of space for teammates, allowing someone like Draymond Green to do what he does best on the offensive end.
The Warriors go from solid to historically significant with Curry on the floor. That’s the type of game-changing impact that LeBron James fans argue their star has. It’s why, no matter how many triple-doubles Russell Westbrook accrues or how many big stat-lines James Harden produces, Curry is simply better. He influences the game more than anyone in the Association.
As a Warriors fan, it’s fun to see him back on the court. The team is faster with a distinct energy and pace to their game. The sound of Curry’s three-point attempts and the roar (or groans on the road) are second-to-none.
As a fan of the game of basketball, it’s amazing being able to witness such a unique and dynamic player. He might still have some things that he’s working through, but a player of his caliber doesn’t need as much time as most to do it. And they’ll need him to figure it out quickly, with only two wins left until they reach the Western Conference Finals where Golden State will presumably face off against the top-seeded Houston Rockets.
The Warriors will need Curry at the peak of his powers against Chris Paul and the Rockets. Based on last night’s game, he looks to be getting there very quickly.