I didn’t think Steph Curry would play tonight. He probably didn’t think he’d log 37 minutes tonight. His coach didn’t plan to let Curry loose and have him take a third of the Warriors’ shots, and yet, he torched the Blazers for 40 points on 32 shots to lead the Warriors to a crazy 132-125 win in the best game of the playoffs.
And he wouldn’t have even been in position to murder the Blazers and stomp on their corpse in front of 19,441 Portlanders if not for Shaun Livingston losing his mind and getting tossed in the first half. That’s a good place as any to start, since it neatly encapsulates just how acutely frustrating the first half was. The officials were overactive—letting Andre Iguodala flop his way into some specious fouls—and frustration at their incompetence boiled over when Livingston got whacked in the head and made his feelings about the no-call known very clearly.
Portland ran out to a big lead early and kept their foot on the gas throughout the half, and Steph was clearly not himself. The timing on all of his passes was off, he airballed a three, and even though the team was better with him in the game, he was playing as jittery as he’s played all year. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum traded big shots and Al-Farouq Aminu once again showed up to play. The Blazers play with an intense camaraderie, and they controlled the game.
Until the fourth quarter, that is, when the game exploded into a grand prix of audacious shots and Curry came alive. All of a sudden he’d regained that immutable swagger of his and he showed it off by putting C.J. McCollum in the blender before dishing to Draymond Green for a huge slam (As for Draymond, he was really damn good tonight, scoring 21 on nine shots, blocking seven shots, and generally out-working the entire Blazers squad).
A few minutes before, Lillard hit a set three from goddamn Mars to give the Blazers a lead. The Oakland native had the best 9-for-30 game I’ve ever seen, hitting all manner of big shots and truly rising to the occasion. It appeared as if the Blazers were going to Do It and that Lillard would be the one to lead them.
But somehow, Steph Curry sparked into action in the most violent, severe way and he took out Portland all by himself in overtime. His 17 points in the frame are the most all-time in any overtime, and his 40 off the bench is the highest total since 2003. He scored the first 12 points of the period and ended the game with such sudden ease that the Moda Center was tomb-quiet for the last two minutes. I mean, c’mon, look at this shit.
He made Paul Allen lose control of his facial muscles.
He’s back, goddamnit.
Curry suffered a knee injury 15 days ago, has played two games in the past 29 days, and showed up out of shape to throttle the life out of the most determined, organized team left in the NBA playoffs. If this is who Curry is again, good. He certainly has more rust to shake off, but these playoffs are finally Steph Curry’s and that’s fun as hell.
Update: Here’s the full, nine-minute highlight reel, Treat yourself. You deserve it.