A thing that I will never stop inserting into conversations for the rest of my life is that I got to watch Steph Curry play (twice) while at Davidson—both of the Wildcats’ games at the Detroit Lions’ stadium when they made the Elite Eight during Curry’s sophomore season. Steph had 33 of his team’s 73 points in their win against Wisconsin, and then he got 25 of 57 in their two-point loss to Kansas. It was a superheroic effort from Curry, who, with his team clearly overmatched from a talent standpoint, had to bust his ass to create shots on every possession and drain every unlikely three he could find. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, everyone in the crowd had completely fallen in love with the tiny dude in constant motion who couldn’t miss if he tried.
These current, crabbed Warriors may not be anywhere near as weak as a tenth-seeded Davidson group from 2008—they’re still starting two other All-Stars besides Curry. But against the Raptors in Game 3, for the first time in a very long time, Steph Curry had to fight an uphill battle. Forced to try and find a way to win alongside guys like Shaun Livingston, Andrew Bogut, and Alfonzo McKinnie, Curry had no choice but to slip back into Davidson mode as he struggled and eventually failed to give his team a 2-1 series lead.
While it’s been a few years since Curry was the best in basketball, Wednesday’s performance was LeBron-esque—literally, nobody else has ever scored as many points in a Finals loss. Finishing with 47/8/7, Curry dominated his team’s stat sheet by showcasing as much of that jazzy, magical three-point shooting as he could. Going 6-of-14 from beyond the arc, Curry’s night was filled with incredible vintage shots, like this off-balance one over Serge Ibaka:
Or this one, which had fancy dribbles, multiple defenders, and a serendipitous bounce:
“He does things that, honestly, I don’t think anybody has ever done before ... He was just amazing,” said Steve Kerr after the game.
The balanced team effort of the Raptors may have overcome the Warriors in Game 3, but with Klay Thompson likely returning for Friday’s game, Golden State should have enough talent to at least keep it close—even without Kevin Durant—and that should set up a spectacular Game 4 fight. If this banged-up group that’s suddenly two losses from elimination can take any positive from a 14-point loss last night, it’s the reintroduction of the back-to-back MVP who just a few years go changed the way every kid wants to play basketball. With apologies to KD, god-mode Steph and the Warriors vs. Kawhi and the Raptors is easily the best form this series could take. When Curry, and not Durant, is this team’s best player, it’s about 20 times more fun watching them try to win.