The last time we saw Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals, he had a bad performance, to say the least. The unanimous MVP didn’t lead his team to the promise land.
He did not by any means have a bad series, but he had a bad series based on the fact he was the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.
He averaged 22.6 points per game, along with 3.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. The assists were lower than Curry would have liked and he shot just 40.3 percent from the field.
After the Warriors lead was up to 3-1, Stephen Curry shot a combined 22-60 from the field (36.7 percent). In Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, he shot just 4-14 from 3-point range, he had four turnovers and one crucial one, where he attempted a behind-the-back pass to Klay Thompson with the Warriors leading the Cavaliers 85-83 with 5:16 to play in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Curry wasn’t 100 percent healthy in the 2016 Finals, for he had injured his knee in the first round of the playoffs against the Houston Rockets that kept him out four games. He also had a large bruise on his shooting elbow that he suffered in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I’m of the opinion, if you’re out there, you’re playing with whatever you have. There are no excuses to be made, and to his credit, Stephen Curry didn’t ever complain.
He had a tough 2016 NBA Finals against one of the greatest players of all-time in LeBron James. He didn’t perform the way he wanted to or the way he thought he should.
However, there is a pretty big misconception about Stephen Curry that he’s struggled in the Finals in both of the Warriors appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Prior to the 2017 Finals, there had been a lot of talk about if Curry would for the first time, not struggle in the NBA Finals.
Yes, he did struggle last year and that will always be true. But we must remember, in the 2015 NBA Finals, Curry averaged 26.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
He averaged more points in the 2015 Finals (26 per game) than he did during the regular season, when he won MVP averaging 23.8 points per game. Yes, he wasn’t the Finals MVP but he played a crucial role in the Warriors capturing their first title in 40 years.
Rachel Nichols was asked the other day by anchor Kerry Chow on SportsCenter if Stephen Curry was rewriting his Finals legacy and she reminded him that in 2015 the Warriors won the championship. Curry didn’t struggle at all and he had a great series.
She stressed the point that the Warriors won and Curry’s stats were exceptional.
This year, Stephen Curry did exactly what Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told him to do at halftime of Game 2, play with passion and joy.
Curry had a superb 2017 NBA Finals to cap off an excellent postseason in which he averaged 28.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game.
Curry was a part of history as the Warriors became the first Bay Area team since the A’s in 1974 to win a championship at home.
In Game 5, Curry’s three point shot simply wasn’t on. He wasn’t making difficult looks that spectators usually see him knock down. Instead of kind of bowing down and just fading away in the game, Curry took to the rim which allowed him to get to the free throw line where he made 12 of 15 free throws.
Curry showed in the elimination game that he’s much more than a mere three-point shooter. Despite shooting 2-9 from deep, he finished with 34 points.
In addition, he had 10 assists and 6 rebounds. He also made an impact defensively with two steals in Game 4 and three in Game 5.
Critics of Curry will point to his lackluster three-point shooting in the final two games of the series with the Cavaliers. Curry shot just 4-18 in those two combined games. But with his shooting struggles, he contributed in other ways as he had 10 assists in each games and a combined 11 rebounds in the two.
Curry’s critics will always talk about his arrogance, the fact that some think he’s just a three-point shooter, the fact that he’s only great because he has great players around him, but Curry doesn’t mind.
He just had the best NBA Finals of his life. 26.8 points, 9.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game.
He helped Kevin Durant get the title that long alluded him and he did it with a smile on his face.
After Durant won the Bill Russell Finals MVP award, he talked about Curry’s perception:
“The stuff you hear about Steph as far as sacrificing and being selfless and caring about his teammates, caring about other people is real,” Durant said after game five. “It’s not a facade. He doesn’t put on this mask or suit every single day. He really is like that. And it’s amazing to see a superstar who sacrifices, who doesn’t care about anything but the group.”
It’s amazing to hear from one of the game’s greatest superstars that he’s never seen a superstar like Curry. He said he’s never seen a superstar want to sacrifice for his teammates the way Curry does.
Yes, Curry didn’t win Finals MVP and he hasn’t in either of his two Finals victories, but that doesn’t mean what he did in these finals wasn’t amazing.
So Curry had a good but not great Finals in 2015. He had a bad one in 2016. In 2017, he had a spectacular Finals. Argue that all you want, but his numbers (26.8 points, 9.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game) are absolutely undeniable.