BOSTON – Stephen Curry isn’t one to show tons of emotion throughout the course of a game. But in the Golden State Warriors’ 107-97 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Curry wore his heart on his sleeve all night.
Late in the first quarter, after knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers, Curry ran down to the opposite end of the court and began yelling at the Boston fans – something he does maybe once or twice down the stretch after a big shot, but rarely from the opening moments.
“Felt like we just had to let everybody know that we were here tonight,” Curry said. “Whether that’s their crowd, their team, our team, whoever wants to see that energy and that fire, we feed off that.
Curry finished with 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including seven 3-pointers, and added 10 rebounds and four assists. He became just the fifth guard in NBA history to have at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a Finals game.
“Incredible,” Draymond Green said. “Put us on his back. Willed us to win. Much-needed win. A game we had to have. Came out and showed why he’s one of the best players to ever play this game, you know, and why, you know, This organization has been able to ride him to so much success. It’s absolutely incredible. “
Green said he knew Curry would not let the Warriors lose. Kerr called his game “stunning.” Klay Thompson ranked it as Curry’s No. 1 Finals performance.
Curry does not rank his performances, but he said he understood the importance of what he did Friday night, especially given what was at stake. The outcome of Friday’s game would have either put the Warriors down 3-1 or tied the series at two games each.
Curry ensured it was the latter.
“It means everything knowing the sense of urgency we had to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, get home-court advantage back and try to create some momentum our way,” Curry said.
Curry scored 33 points through the first three quarters, a trend that had been consistent through the first three games of the series. But his problem area had been the fourth quarter, where he was averaging just three points on 30% field goal shooting. He had scored just six points in Games 1, 2 and 3 combined.
On Friday, he scored 10 in the final frame. He had 24 points in the second half overall, tying the most in his career in the second half of a Finals game.
The fourth quarter is when the Warriors, as a team, put the clamps on the Celtics. Golden State outscored Boston 15-0 in crunch time and became the first team in the past 50 seasons to win a Finals game by at least 10 points in regulation after trailing at some point in the last five minutes of the game.
“We were helping each other out, playing together, playing aggressively on the defensive side, and most importantly just closing out,” Wiggins said. “You know, not grabbing rebounds. No offensive rebounds. Didn’t get second-chance points. So that was big.”
With just over a minute left in the game and the Warriors up three, Green grabbed the offensive rebound off a missed Thompson 3-pointer. He passed it back out to Curry but quickly got the ball back after the Celtics threw a double-team at Curry. Green then dished the ball to Looney, who finished with a dunk over Al Horford.
Kerr called it the biggest bucket of the night. But it was Curry who carried them to the point when that shot could become the dagger.
“The things he does we kind of take for granted from time to time,” Thompson said. “But to go out there and put us on his back, I mean, we got to help him out on Monday.”
Curry got some help on Friday from Thompson, who scored 18 points and knocked down four 3-pointers; Andrew Wiggins, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds; and Jordan Poolewho added 14 points. Kevon Looneywho came off the bench for the first time this series, had 11 rebounds and finished with a plus-21 net rating.
But Curry outscored the rest of the Warriors’ starters 43-39. At 34, he is the oldest player to do that in a Finals game since Michael Jordan, 35, in Game 6 against the Jazz in 1998.
Green struggled again, not putting any substantial fingerprints on the game until his rebound late in the fourth. Kerr even opted to pull Green from the game on offensive possessions through the final five minutes of the game.
As Thompson said, the Warriors know they have to help Curry out. But they are not saying they need to do it by sharing the brunt of the scoring responsibilities.
“When a guy is on a roll like that, you just get out of his way,” Thompson said.
Green added: “You just try to do what you can to help free him up to get him to his spots or open up some space for him to create and get to his spots. For us, we’ve just got to continue to fill to in where we may. You’ve got a shot, take it. … I think if everybody is forceful on the offensive end, and that means with cuts, that means crisp with your passes, then you allow him to be in the position to do what he does. “
Green said he knew Curry was going to play with an extra level of fire in Game 4, saying he could tell just by watching Curry’s demeanor in the days following their lackluster loss two days prior.
Curry said he entered Game 4 knowing he wanted to take over. He knew how quickly the momentum in the Finals could shift, and if he could will his team to a victory in Boston, all of it would be on their side.
“He was going to come out with that type of fire,” Green said. “And he did, and we were all able to follow it.”