Trailing two games to one in the NBA Finals, the Warriors faced the daunting task of beating the Boston Celtics in the hostile environment of TD Garden on Friday night. They knew they had to muster one of the best efforts of their dynasty. It even runs the best-of-seven series.
While it wasn’t the nicest of wins, the Warriors pulled off an incredible 107-97 win over the Celtics thanks to a legendary performance from Steph Curry with 43 points and 10 rebounds.
It wasn’t the most points Curry has ever scored in an NBA Finals game (47 against the Toronto Raptors in 2019), but the Warriors needed every single point from the two-time NBA scoring champion. Playing on an injured left foot, Curry shot 14 of 26 from field and 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
With Draymond Green stuck in a massive funk and Klay Thompson not hitting on all cylinders, Curry forced the Warriors to a season-saving win, hitting multiple clutch shots in the second half.
Hours before the Warriors and Celtics started in Boston on Friday, ESPN’s NBA Today panel looked back at the best NBA Finals Game 4 performances of all time and wondered if anyone from Golden State or Boston would be able to would crack the list.
The discussion was prompted by an article by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, which selected the best performances in Game 4 by position.
When host Malika Andrews asked analysts Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson who had the best chance of writing an all-time performance in Game 4, neither chose Curry.
Perkins: “Jayson Tatum. This is the moment for Jayson Tatum right now. He didn’t have that standout ‘I’m the best player on the floor’ moment this series. The conversation was either Steph or the conversation was Jaylen Brown I don’t care if Jayson Tatum goes out there and gets 25 or 30. I want to see one of those 40 tracks tonight and I think it packs a punch. I think he’s going to do well tonight and I think he’s going to do it in a great way with Deuce on the touchline cheering him on.”
Jefferson: “I don’t think anyone does. I don’t think anyone has a chance to join this list. I’m not Debbie Downer. Just checking out this list, Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], [Charles] Barkley, [Michael Jordan]…”
ESPN NBA Analyst Zach Lowe: “You know Steph Curry’s in it, right?”
Jefferson: “I don’t think anyone has a chance. We’ll see if I’m wrong. We’ll see on Monday.”
Pelton has broken down his list by position and ranks Magic Johnson’s Game 4 performance against the Celtics in 1987 as the best game by a point guard. In that game, Magic finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He went off the field 12 of 20 and didn’t attempt a 3-pointer. Not a flashy stat, but according to Pelton, it was a signature moment that Magic has on the list.
With the Lakers trailing 106-105 with seven seconds to go, Johnson took the inbound pass, drove across the lane with six-time All-Defensive teammate Kevin McHale, and hit a sky hook — which was dubbed “Junior, Junior Sky Hook.” was designated” – with two seconds remaining to give Los Angeles a 107-106 win and a three-game-to-one lead.
Did Curry do enough to push Magic off the list? That’s up for debate, but by numbers alone, one could argue strongly that the two-time NBA MVP now has the most impressive performance by a point guard in Game 4 of the NBA Finals ever.
If you think Curry is more of a shooting guard, he doesn’t knock Jordan off the list after MJ dropped 55 points on 21-of-37 shooting in the Chicago Bulls’ Game 4 win over the Phoenix Suns in 1993.
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Tatum – Perkins’ pick – went off the field on 8 of 23 and finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Celtics’ loss.
It was Curry who had the performance to remember, proving Jefferson – and Perkins to an extent – wrong.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from Curry’s career, it’s a losing proposition to bet against him.
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