Facing injuries and adversity, Stephen Curry put together arguably the greatest playoff run of his career last year, silencing doubters in the process. However, in light of Golden State ultimately losing in the finals along with other factors, it does not get talked about enough.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Overall, Curry put up impressive averages of 28.2 PTS, 6.0 REB, and 5.7 AST on 44%/38%/94% shooting splits. But what really made his run memorable was his performance without Kevin Durant.
In the third quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Houston Rockets, Durant went down with a calf injury. Prior to the injury, Durant was looking like the best player in the postseason. With the momentum on their side, the Rockets seemed primed to take a 3-2 lead.
But Stephen Curry had other plans. He dropped 20 of his 25 points in the second half, including 12 in the 4th quarter alone, to take Game 5.
But the series wasn’t over yet. The Warriors entered Game 6 on the road as 7.5-point underdogs, the largest under Steve Kerr in the playoffs.
Once again, Curry came up big. After being held scoreless in the first half and dealing with foul trouble, Curry, in heroic fashion, scored 33 points in the second half (with 23 in the fourth quarter alone) to help advance the Warriors to the Western Conference Finals.
In the words of LeBron James, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion”.
In the Conference Finals, the Warriors were met by the Portland Trail Blazers and their explosive guard tandem of Lillard and McCollum. In a series in which the Warriors trailed for longer than they were ahead and faced a double-digit deficit in three straight games, Golden State swept Portland to advance to their fifth straight finals.
Stephen Curry followed up his performance against Houston with an even greater one, scoring the most points ever in a series sweep and putting up a 37-point triple-double in the closeout Game 4.
Then came the NBA finals, in which the Warriors were matched up against the Toronto Raptors led by Kawhi Leonard, who was having one of the greatest playoff runs in league history.
After Klay Thompson went down with a leg injury early in the 4th quarter of Game 2, Curry was harshly introduced to the box-and-one, which Toronto utilized to take advantage of the Warriors’ lack of spacing.
Nevertheless, the great scorers always find a way. In an all-time great performance, Curry put the Warriors on his back and tallied 47 points with the Raptors’ defense zoned in on him. However, this effort ended up being futile, as the overmatched Warriors lost this game and subsequently, the series. Curry ended the series with averages of 30.5 PTS, 6.5 AST, and 5.2 REB.
Through his 2019 playoff run, Curry was able to disprove various narratives and lead an undermanned Golden State to a position where they were just 2 wins away from capturing their third straight championship.
Photo: USA Today