When in the third quarter he slipped the third triple in a row from the backyard, Stephen Curry began to point to the audience on the ring finger to say that he was waiting for the NBA ring, and something more. It was the same one that, as happy as after an ulcer attack, many viewers at Garden in Boston thought about. But the reality was too big to hide.
At 34, Curry has confirmed that he is moving on to another ecosystem: he is the player most able to break the games since the days of Michael Jordan, the only one capable of appearing lethal even before the shot starts from his hands. Each conclusion was a blow to the frustration of the opponents, and the more he threw from a distance the more the audience waited for the cleaver to fall on their heads.
Eventually Golden State wins in Boston 103-90 and ends the series 4-2, with the third straight win, fourth title in eight seasons, with six finals. For the first time Curry, in tears, wins the title of MVP of the finals: when the award is announced, he nods his head, a little happy, a little angry, closing an account that has haunted him for years.
He had won it all, his hand full of rings, he was 8 times All Star, twice the best player of the regular season, twice the best scorer, the greatest shooter of three ever, but never the best in the series that counts. In 2015 the award had been blown to him by Andre Iguodala, in 2017 and 18 by Kevin Durant, this time there was no doubt. Curry does it with one last great performance, 34 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
“It’s a prize that comes after an injury – he says at the end of the race – after a long journey to recover, it’s an incredible moment”. To reduce everything to his lethal way of hitting the basket from any distance would be not fully understanding Curry: with him on the pitch his teammates play better, and his opponents worse, the defenses are constantly struggling in search of doubling on the number 30.
Curry defends, takes rebounds, serves assists, spins the team and, of course, hits, knowing that each of his winning shots is worth much more than three points, or even the two facts with penetrations into the box. His face, often smiling, is the detail of the devil. His performance in Game 6 was grafted on to a plot that, after the initial 14-2 in Boston, saw the Warriors play on their favorite ground, made up of quick counter-attacks and three-pointers. All ingredients that, when expressed at the highest level, generate the classic rumba played by the Warriors in which they begin to score in bursts.
Thus came the partial that overturned the game, the 21-0 which represents the largest partial in the Finals in fifty years of the NBA. The second best was a 20-0 by Golden State in 2019, just to reiterate the characteristic of the Californian house. The set, after the 14-2, ended at the interval at 52-25, for an overall result of 54-39 for the Warriors. Jordan Poole, who studies under Curry, had scored eleven points in six minutes. Draymond Green – with whom we would also shoot at night in the Bronx – was the dominator in defense throughout the game, with twelve rebounds, two blocks, two steals and eight assists. And the others, Klay Thompson, another recovering from a serious injury, and Andre Wiggins, who is now holding the trophy of champions, rocking him like a baby.
Boston has been great all season, but not this time and not here. She immediately found herself having to speed up the play and look for the three-way conclusion to quickly reduce the advantage, all things that are not in her DNA. In the third quarter, the one that until now has always reserved surprises, saw Boston recover, but only partially: 76-66 for the Warriors. There it was semi-finished.
The last quarter went on with at least five attempts by Boston to recover and go under the ten points of disadvantage, pushed by the twenty thousand of the Garden, but all attempts frustrated by Curry (93-81 with 3’42 ” from the end), then came the umpteenth triple from Steph, the gesture of all to bed, with his face resting on the two hands closed like a book, for the 96-81 that triggered the countdown of the match, the challenge and the season. At the last minute, the coach of the greens, Ime Udoka, brought out the starting quintet for the final applause.
Steve Kerr, finally happy, has brought in the old Iguodala for his last dance as a champion. Throughout the season, the Celtics’ defense was magnified, but in the decisive match that of Golden State proved extraordinary. And even there, among the protagonists, there was him, Curry, much bigger than his trophies. Such a player has never existed before and will not exist after.
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