Stephen Curry was an NBA Finals choker, and that’s why his back-to-back MVP seasons were a short-lived fad that we’d all soon forget.
Kevin Durant shies away from the big, difficult moments — that’s why he cowardly left Oklahoma City for the ease of the Bay Area and the Warriors.
You’ve heard these takes before. You might even believe them yourself. But if you’ve watched the 2017 NBA Finals, you now know those statements to be patently untrue.
The Warriors are one win away from a second title in three years. If that win comes Friday in Game 4, Golden State will cap arguably the greatest three-year run in NBA history with the greatest postseason record in the league’s history, 16-0.
And at the center of it all are Curry and Durant.
The two players who “wouldn’t be able to play together” have been getting along swimmingly in these playoffs and particularly in these Finals. There’s no drama, just the ball ripping through the net and wins — most of them laughable.
Just like the narratives.
Curry, the choker, is averaging a near triple-double in these Finals — after Game 3 he checks in at 28.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. In Game 3, he scored four points in the Warriors’ 11-0 game-winning run in the final 2:19, including two game-sealing free throws.
Durant, the one who shies away from big moments — Mr. Unreliable, as he was called in Oklahoma City — shook off a bad half and had the other seven points in that run. If Curry has been great, Durant has been spectacular in these Finals: He’s averaging 34/10/6 and playing excellent defense — sometimes as the Warriors’ center — on the other end of the court.
In fact, Durant is playing so well in his second NBA Finals that some are asking if he’s the best player in the world, not LeBron James.
And to think that last summer there were questions if the Warriors would improve by adding Durant …
Curry and Durant didn’t deserve their bum raps — just as LeBron doesn’t deserve whichever one is being pinned on him today. Such is the nature of fame and success in the modern sports landscape, where it’s more engaging to tear down than build-up greatness.
That said, it’s not all bad — it is an incredible thing to watch Curry and Durant demolish the narratives in these Finals.
And make no mistake, it’s not as if Curry and Durant’s performances were inevitable: Draymond Green, the Warriors’ catalyst, has been in foul trouble the entire series, Klay Thompson couldn’t find the hoop in Game 1, Andre Iguodala hasn’t looked like the Iggy of even a year ago, and who knows what’s going on with Zaza Pachulia or Javale McGee at any given moment.
Plus, LeBron is averaging a triple-double himself.
The Warriors might make it look easy, but the Cavs have been a test for them, and Curry and Durant have risen to the occasion in big, but relatively unheralded ways.
We can change the latter part of that in the coming days and weeks.
Two Warriors players are putting up all-time great NBA Finals performances, and barring a collapse of incredible — frankly inconceivable proportions — the only question that could be asked about either player going forward is “which one will win Finals MVP?”
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