BOSTON — Stephen Curry isn’t one to show tons of emotion throughout 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 three straight runs, Curry ran to the other end of the field and started yelling at Boston fans – something he does maybe once or twice after a big turned, but rarely from the first moments.
“I felt like we just had to let everyone know we were here tonight,” Curry said. “Whether it’s their audience, their team, our team, whoever wants to see that energy and that fire, we feed off of that.
Curry finished with 43 points on 14 of 26 shooting, including seven 3-pointers, and added 10 rebounds and four assists. He became the fifth guard in NBA history to have at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a Finals game.
“Incredible,” said Draymond Green. “Put us on his back. Wanted us to win. A win we badly needed. A game we had to have. He 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 was able to lead him to such success. It’s absolutely amazing.
Green said he knew Curry wouldn’t let the Warriors lose. Kerr called his playing “superb”. Klay Thompson ranked it as Curry’s No. 1 performance in the Finals.
Curry doesn’t rank his performances, but he said he understood the significance of what he did on Friday night, especially given what was at stake. The result of Friday’s game would have either downed the Warriors 3-1 or tied the series at two games apiece.
Curry assured it was the last.
“That means everything, knowing the sense of urgency we needed to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, reclaim home court advantage and try to build momentum our way,” said said Curry.
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 had been the fourth quarter, when he averaged just three points on 30% 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 second-half points overall, tying the most of his career in the second half of a Finals game.
The fourth quarter is when the Warriors, as a team, put the reins on the Celtics. Golden State beat Boston 15-0 in critical 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 past five minutes of the game.
“We were helping each other, playing together, playing aggressively on the defensive end and, most importantly, closing,” Wiggins said. “You know, no rebounds grabbed. No offensive rebounds. I didn’t get any second-chance points. So that was huge.”
With just over a minute left in the game and the Warriors up three, Green grabbed the offensive rebound on a missed 3-pointer from Thompson. He tossed it back to Curry but quickly won the ball back after the Celtics threw a double team at Curry. Green then sent 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 took them to the point where that blow could become the dagger.
“The things he does we take for granted from time to time,” Thompson said. “But to go out there and put us on his back, I mean, we have to help him on Monday.”
Curry got help Friday from Thompson, who scored 18 points and knocked down four 3-pointers; Andrew Wiggins, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds; and Jordan Poole, who added 14 points. Kevon Looney, who came off the bench for the first time this series, had 11 rebounds and finished with a net rating of plus-21.
But Curry outscored the rest of the Warriors starters 43-39. At 34, he’s the oldest player to do that in a Finals game since 35-year-old Michael Jordan in Game 6 against the Jazz in 1998.
Green struggled again, putting no substantial fingerprints on the play until his rebound late in the fourth. Kerr even opted to take Green out of play on offensive possessions in the final five minutes of the game.
Like Thompson said, the Warriors know they have to help Curry. But they’re not saying they have to do it by sharing the weight of scoring responsibilities.
“When a guy is on a roll like that, you get out of his way,” Thompson said.
Green added: “You’re just trying to do what you can to help free her up to get her to her places or open space for her to create and get to her places. For us, we just have to continue to fill in where we can. You’ve got a shot, take it. … I think if everybody’s powerful on the offensive side, and that means with cuts, that means clean with your passes, then you allow them to 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 behavior in the days following their lackluster loss two days prior.
Curry said he went into Game 4 knowing he wanted to take over. He knew how quickly the momentum of the Finals could change, and if he could lead his team to a victory in Boston, everything would be on his side.
“He was going to come out with that kind of fire,” Green said. “And he did, and we were all able to follow him.”