As brilliant as Steph Curry's performance in Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round series against the Nuggets was, it came with the distinct air of being a precursor to something bigger. He had arrived on the big stage and given us a glimpse of what he was capable of before leaving us to wonder simply: What would he do next?
Last night, Curry answered that question with a resounding, "whatever the fuck I want." For six minutes and 22 seconds of the third quarter, Curry was transcendent. He suddenly transformed from a semi-hobbled star who was doing his best to contribute on a bad ankle into a tidal wave with a perfect jump shot. He scored 22 points over the course of that six minutes and 22 seconds, with nine of those coming in the last 90 seconds of the quarter. In the video above, you can see every deep three-pointer, step-back jumper, and floater Curry hit as he crushed the Nuggets' playoff hopes in a matter of minutes.
Curry's performance was so dominant that it seemed surreal as it was unfolding. One minute, the Nuggets were clawing their way back to within striking distance of the lead. The next, everyone was left taking deep breaths and counting down slowly from 10 in order to re-establish some sense of reality.
The performance was reminiscent of Curry's days at Davidson, when he single-handedly willed his team—a 10 seed underdog—to the Elite Eight of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, and became a college basketball folk hero. He was pure magic then, and he spent two weeks weaving a fairy tale out of high-arcing three pointers.
But the college game lends itself to magic. The professional game, on the other hand, is supposed to stamp all of that out. There's no room for fairy tales in a league that is patrolled by giants and athletic freaks from top to bottom. Throwing up reckless floaters over seven-footers and stopping on a dime to shoot a three from 27 feet out are not things that are supposed to work in the NBA. And yet all of those things worked for Steph Curry last night. For six minutes and 22 seconds, he recaptured some of that magic from his college days and put on a performance that brought March Madness to the NBA playoffs.
And so now it feels as if everything is on the table, as far as Steph Curry's playoff run is concerned. He is going to lead his team to an upset over what was supposed to be an extremely dangerous Nuggets team, and the potential for even more playoff magic will be carried with him. So we can't help but wonder once again: What will he do next?