OAKLAND — Man, that was some game at Oracle Arena on Saturday night. I mean, the Celtics hitting 50 percent of their 28 3-point attempts, and the Warriors’ nine blocked shots, and the way the Golden State second unit opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run, and …
Oh, and Stephen Curry. Good old Steph Curry, the Warriors’ game-changing shooter.
Guess I forgot about Curry for a minute as I sifted through the minutiae of another Warriors win, and another Warriors playoff run. Hey, it happens.
“I think when a guy has been an MVP twice, you just sort of accept the fact that he is one of the best players in the world,” coach Steve Kerr said after his team’s hard-fought 109-105 win against the Boston Celtics. “When he was on the rise and the MVPs happened, it was maybe a bigger story. But maybe that’s the sign of true greatness, when people just expect it every night.
“We expect it every night,” Kerr added, emphasizing the “we” to make it clear he was referring to the Warriors, “because it happens almost every night. He’s just a special, special player.”
If taking the transcendent for granted is indeed the sign of greatness, then Curry has joined the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the NBA pantheon. Because even as he puts up All-Star numbers, it’s easy to overlook how vital he is to the Warriors’ fortunes.
This was one of those games that jolts you back to reality. The Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference, even after Saturday’s loss, and third best in the NBA. They have the league’s highest-rated defense. And they looked every bit the contender at Oracle. The Warriors didn’t lead until the 10:23 mark of the third quarter. And even after the home team built a five-point margin on Curry’s driving layup with 1:08 left in the game, the visitors wouldn’t go away.
In particular, Kyrie Irving was incredible. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed the Warriors the past few years, because Irving has frequently shredded them. He scored 37 points Saturday, connecting on five of six 3-pointers and 13 of 18 shots overall. Irving was dazzling in the process. He shot off of spin moves, he shot while falling, he shot with a hand in his mug, and everything seemed to go in.
Irving and the Celtics would have been too much to handle on this night, except the Warriors had Curry. They usually do; it’s just easy to forget when Kevin Durant is taking over down the stretch or Klay Thompson is exploding for a quarter.
Even Draymond Green, the Warriors power forward, understands the apathy. He was asked after the game whether it feels new every time Curry comes to a boil like this.
“Uhh, I wouldn’t necessarily say new,” Green replied. “But it’s still exciting, you see some of the shots that he makes. And tonight I don’t even think there were many crazy ones. Like, we’ve seen him go off, and there’s like some bomb from halfcourt. You know, between the legs, cross over, behind the back, step back, falling away — a three that hits nothing but net. … Obviously, 49 is 49, but I’ve seen crazier. So unfortunately for him, I’m not that impressed by what he did.”