The Toronto Raptors came away with a big win in a pivotal Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. They took advantage of a hobbled Warriors squad that was missing Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, with others banged up. That left Steph Curry, the golden boy of Golden State, to become an offensive unto himself. Yes, they still have DeMarcus Cousins, but it’s unreasonable to rely on him for NBA Finals-level offensive output in his third game back from a torn quad, the latest injury in a year and a half full of them.
So Curry remains the last man standing. It’s a return to the simpler days of 2015, when the Dubs were still a fun, new team with the most exciting player in basketball. Thompson was a cog of that offense, but Curry was the entire machine, which is why he won the first-ever unanimous MVP. While no one is a fan of the injuries that got us there, Curry’s performance in Game 3 was a treat, a delightful callback to those early days.
I’ve believed for years now that Curry is, without a doubt, the most exciting player to watch in the league when he’s fully unleashed. The most disappointing part about Durant’s decision to join the team (other than the destruction of parity) was that Curry was no longer free to unleash flames whenever he desired. He no longer needed or wanted to consistently pull up from 35 feet all game, because why do that when you have the best pure scorer in the world on your team to make things easier?
Game 3 reminded us how mesmerizing Curry can be when he’s rolling and is given the keys to the offense. The Raptors swarmed him, determined to make someone, anyone else beat them. Yet Curry still had 47 points on 6 of 14 from deep. He took 31 shots! The last time he took more than 30 shots in a game was January 13th. Before that? You have to go all the way back to the 2016 playoffs against the Trail Blazers. He’s always been an efficiency darling, shooting so well from deep that he didn’t need to put up gaudy shot attempts to put up gaudy statistics. But when he does decide that he’s going to shoot, and shoot often, nobody in the league is more fun to watch.
We’ve collectively admired the efforts of LeBron James over the last few years, taking the weight of a franchise on his Herculean shoulders and powering them to titles and victories through sheer force of will. Curry has never had to do that, being fortunate enough that his team drafted and developed talent with him. Last night gave us a glimpse of what would happen if he was forced to bear that kind of burden. And man, was it special.
We’re tired of the Warriors. We’re all tired of Draymond Green’s constant yapping, and we’re tired of watching them hoist a trophy year after year. It’s a natural fatigue that happens with every dominant franchise in every sport. But I’ll never tire of watching Curry jack up shots from unfathomable distances and drilling them, time after time. It’s a physical manifestation of accomplishing what looks to be impossible. Watching him single-handedly keep his team in the game, and feeling like he could actually pull it out by himself even as he came up short, is a feeling reserved for only the greatest players of their generations. Curry has firmly cemented himself in that category with countless performances like last night, and hopefully many more to come.