Steph Curry leads Golden State Warriors to latest piece of history in NBA Finals

Steph Curry leads Golden State Warriors to latest piece of history in NBA Finals

Steph Curry hoists the NBA trophy aloft

“You don’t want to see us next year”. This was the warning Steph Curry sent out to the rest of the Association following his team’s lacklustre 2020-2021 NBA season.

The Golden State Warriors finished an extremely disappointing ninth in the Western Conference standings and, despite a late surge to make the play-in tournament, Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies condemned the Warriors to a season without the playoffs.

Fast-forward 12 months, as he sits with the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy in one hand and the Bill Russell Finals MVP award in the other, it is safe to say that the two-time MVP’s statement has come true.

The 2021-2022 campaign was a season of comebacks for the Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson re-emerged following two, long seasons out through injury, Draymond Green and Curry returned to full fitness after an injury-ravaged season the year prior, and the Warriors were back in the playoffs, finishing with the joint-third best record in the NBA.

Curry and co surged through the playoffs with emphatic series wins over the regular season MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets (4-1), the Memphis Grizzlies (4-2) and Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks (4-1) in the Western Conference Finals. Awaiting the Oakland-based side in the best-of-seven NBA Finals were the revitalised Boston Celtics and their team of young stars.

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The Celtics were in trouble in the early months of the season. Talks of trades and changing-room rifts were in abundance but a dramatic turnaround reversed their fortunes. Rookie head coach Ime Udoka combined with gritty, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, and brilliant All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown saw the Celtics through one of the most challenging playoff runs of all time and into the NBA Finals.

In their long-awaited return to the Finals, the Celtics got off to the best possible start. A 120-108 win, on the road, put the Celtics in command. Tatum racked up 13 assists, Brown scored 24 points and veteran Al Horford popped up to score a team-high 26 points.

Curry described the result as a “come to Jesus” moment for his side and GSW responded in game two. The Warriors held the Celtics to just 88 points in a 107-88 victory. A 35-point third-quarter onslaught, courtesy of a Jordan Poole-party from the bench, saw the Warriors bounce back to level the series. Curry added to his 34-points in game one, with 29 points and if the Celtics were to win this series, stopping the 34-year-old sharpshooter would be essential.

As the Finals travelled to Boston for game three, once again, Curry could not be stopped. The eight-time All-Star went off for 31 points but the Celtics’ big three responded. Brown (27 points), Tatum (26), and Smart (24) put together a complete offensive performance and, buoyed by the home crowd, led their team to victory in game three.

Now 2-1 down and still on the road, the Warriors had their backs up against the wall, but in the only way they know how, they knocked down the wall and went back home to Oakland with a win. Curry torched the Celtics with 43 points, including seven from deep and fellow ‘Splash Bro’ Thompson contributed with four from beyond the arc. With the scores now tied, the Finals were really starting to heat up.

The Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins has had a tough ride in the NBA. The former number-one pick in the draft had struggled to build on his impressive early years in the league and was in danger of acquiring the unwanted title of being a ‘bust’. The Canadian has since found a home in Oakland and in game five he demonstrated his importance to Golden State. With Curry struggling, 0-9 from three, ‘Two-Way Wiggs’ seized control of the game. With 26 points and 13 rebounds, the 27-year-old took the Warriors one game away from getting their hands on the NBA Championship following a 104-94 win.

Back in Boston, the Warriors had a chance to wrap up the finals — and they did so in their usual style. Curry scored 34 points and finished with seven rebounds and seven assists, the previously under-performing Green finished with a stat line of 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists with a dogged defensive performance which fans have become accustomed to seeing and Messrs. Wiggins, Thompson and Poole contributed well to help see off the Celtics.

When Kevin Durant left the West Coast for the Brooklyn Nets, there were question marks over whether Golden State would be able to replicate their previous success. This ring goes a long in way proving the doubters wrong. Led by Steve Kerr, GSW’s incredible playoff record continues, having won 22 of the 24 playoff series under the 56-year-old head coach.

By getting his hands on the Finals MVP trophy, Curry has also added the coveted prize which was missing from his collection of trophies. For many, the absence of the trophy had been a stain on ‘Chef’ Curry’s legacy, but his constant strive for perfection is one step closer to being complete.

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For the Celtics, it turned out to be a disappointing conclusion to a brilliant season but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the franchise’s future. The Celtics can look at the Warriors model and see lots of similarities. A big three coming straight from the draft and a young, inspiring coach to get behind has worked rather well for the Warriors, and the Celtics will look to follow suit.

With four rings in seven years, we are witnessing the Warriors make history. This is a core that has now achieved legendary status in basketball, and they don’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

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