Steph Curry makes you want to ragequit. Throw up your hands; throw the controller across the room; swear, loudly, to an empty apartment. It’s a videogame term, but he’s a videogame talent: hitting low-percentage (for anyone else) shots at a rate that should be beyond human capabilities, and when the algorithm decides he’s going to go off, all you can do is get angry and get beaten.
Curry set an NBA Finals game record with nine three-pointers in Golden State’s 122-103 over Cleveland in Game 2, shooting 11-of-26, 9 of 17 from beyond the arc. Occasionally well beyond it. And every single three in the fourth quarter, it felt like, was a backbreaker, coming just as the Cavs were trying to get back into the game, not merely halting their momentum but turning it around the other way.
Two straight threes in 32 seconds to answer a LeBron James three that had cut the lead to seven. Two minutes later, an awkward falling-away heave as the shot-clock expired, answering and topping a James dunk on the previous possession. Two minutes later, a four-point play. “You know, nine threes and seemed to hit the big shot every time we needed one,” Steve Kerr said.
Just utterly demoralizing for an opponent that was actually stringing some good offensive possessions together in the second half. But you need things to go your way on both ends to make an actual run, and the Cavs, even late in the game when they were switching well and contesting most jumpers, could not stop the Warriors—especially Curry.
“No matter where you are on the floor, especially past half court on their side, he always has a chance to make a miraculous shot,” Kevin Love said. “You saw it at the end of the first half last game. We made a gamble and he hit a shot from about, it seemed like, 35 feet out there. So I felt like it was well contested. We played 23 1/2 good seconds of defense, and he turned around and hit a moon ball.”
Love’s talking about this from Game 1, and then the soul-killer below, where Curry lost his handle and had to throw up a desperation shot at the shot clock. It went in, because of course it went in, pushing the Golden State lead to 14 with under eight minutes left. Watch the reaction of the Cleveland bench; that’s the kind of shot that makes heads hang.
It feels like a personal failing as a fan that I sometimes confuse Curry’s game (and the Warriors’ in general) for a joyless efficiency. It’s probably because what he does is often immune to defense, and can appear independent of ball movement, and so often results in blowouts, in runs thwarted. It is to varying degrees autonomous of so many things we consider fundamental aspects of basketball that it feels like a cheat code. He is the best in the world at what he does, and he is better than anyone else who’s ever done it, and the hand-eye coordination and muscle control he must have are almost inhuman, can feel unfair. But that’s still not a circumvention of the sport, which is what I think itches at me when I’m frustrated by Curry single-handledly pushing a lead out of reach; it’s either a revolution in what the sport is and can become, or he’s just a miracle.
Just imagine how not-fun it can be to be on the wrong side of it. Tristan Thompson was asked if he feels “helplessness” when Curry catches fire. His response? Multiple expletives and no more questions.
You can’t ragequit a Steph Curry game because it’s real life. You can’t really do anything else about it, either.