In a Game 6 overflowing with
everything that stamps Stephen Curry and Draymond Green’s
inevitable Hall-of-Fame futures, the Golden State Warriors’ opening
offensive sequence laid the groundwork for the performances of
After an initial pick-and-pop,
Curry sprung free off the ball and induced a panic from the Boston
Celtics’ defense — an increasingly common occurrence as the series
progressed. By no means was their defense the crux of their demise.
But the mere existence of Curry, with his unrelenting motion,
court-twisting aura and picturesque jumper, brought about more
lapses in the later stages of the Finals.
One of those lapses was
transpiring in the first minute of Game 6.
Al Horford and Marcus Smart
migrated toward Andrew Wiggins. Curry found himself open, only for
Jayson Tatum to stunt off Green and deter an open three. As he’s
done countless times over the past eight years, Curry, with his
gravity and the chaos it conjures, primed Green for a
Roughly two hours later, Curry,
Green and the Warriors were NBA champions, their fourth title in
eight seasons. En route to the top, both Curry and Green, in their
contrasting fashions, were superb on Thursday.
I will not toss around the term
“vintage” because vintage implies a relic of the past. That is not
the case. They remain stars, ones who press forward as the
foundation of Golden State’s dynastic presence. They are the
anchors on each side of the ball, arguably the best in the league
at their respective crafts.
Others may garner justified
mentions, yet to consider Green the NBA’s premier defender and
Curry the NBA’s foremost offensive engine is to have witnessed the
past eight seasons with a detailed eye.
Thursday was a singular game
amid a bountiful sample, though its events felt so emblematic of
this duo’s superlatives. For their brilliance to shine so brightly
as Golden State returned to basketball’s summit after a brief
hiatus was the most fitting storyline available.
The scope of Curry’s persistent
status as a top-five player peered through whenever possible. He
rainbowed in 6-of-11 long balls, melding off-ball adventures and
on-ball savvy. Relocations, stepbacks, up-fakes — the whole
ensemble cast its shadow.
When Boston sent ill-equipped
big men his way, he wiggled downhill for scores. Curry’s
generational scoring prime begins with his unrivaled jumper, but
it’s punctuated by his interior prowess.
Since 2015-16, he’s shot 55%
inside the arc. He is a magical acrobat of a finisher who
comfortably wades into midrange looks when the defense coaxes them.
In Game 6, he drilled triples at a 55% clip and two-pointers at a
60% rate. That intersection of scoring wherever and however the
scenario dictates is his grandest attribute.
You do not average 31 points on
62% True Shooting against the top-ranked defense (who sport a pair
of hounding perimeter irritants) through rigidity. Curry’s offense
is the antithesis of rigidity, which is precisely why he is
For all the efforts various
opponents made to target and exploit his defense in these playoffs,
those intentions often ended in futility. Sure, Tatum, Jaylen
Brown, Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson (among others) periodically
turned a profit; Curry was bested for stretches, no doubt. On the
aggregate though, he continually held firm and authored a rather
good defensive postseason.
That rang true in Game 6, even
as Boston quickly established a blueprint involving post-ups
against him. He is among the league’s sturdiest guards and seeks
out opportunities of physicality.
When he waltzed into the action,
whether it be at the point of attack or on the block, he crouched
low, puffed his chest out and refused to be a liability with
another Larry O’Brien Trophy looming.
When off-ball endeavors demanded
his attention, he promptly rotated, holstering astute positioning
and frenized hands. He skirted shooters off the arc with
disciplined, high-handed closeouts. By the game’s conclusion, he
tallied two steals, a block and the title of an ironclad defensive
As Curry spearheaded the offense
and blended in defensively, Green threaded the inverse balance.
From the outset, he flourished wherever necessary and maintained
his Game 5 excellence.
On rebounding chances, he
crashed into the closest body and boxed out. If the Celtics came
across a fast break, an opening to avoid the doldrums of a listless
half-court brigade, there was Green to silence them. In help
situations, he seamlessly pinged between ball and man, as if
teleportation was the secret to his success.
One of Green’s preeminent
defensive skills is his proclivity to eliminate one option and
direct the event elsewhere, only to blot that out as well. He
chooses Plan B for the opposition, even if it was not yet aware of
that reality. They proceed under a guise of autonomy, just as he
When Boston avoided
incorporating him, Green outsourced his wisdom, limbs swirling,
fingers navigating traffic, voice yelling, ensuring that his
signature would still be etched across the play.
His hands are always lively,
prepared for a shot contest, strip, block, stunt, rebound or
otherwise. You will endure the entirety of his 6-foot-6, 230-pound
frame, amplified by a 7-foot-1 wingspan.
Much like dubbing Curry the
greatest shooter of all-time is a factual statement that undersells
his lore, referring to Green as the best defender in the NBA feels
similar. He transcends his era, a great among greats, not merely
among his contemporaries. I will not masquerade as an omniscient
archivist of the league, but the list of defenders with loftier
peaks than Green must be a rather short one.
While the offense was often a
trudge-through-the-mud experience for Green in these Finals, Game 6
became his breakout. Behind 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting, he
registered his first double-digit scoring appearance since Game 5
against the Dallas Mavericks — another closeout scenario in which
He popped home a pair of threes
— his first two of the series — served out eight assists and was
the metronome of Golden State’s early-offense ventures. Miss, make,
live-ball turnover, dead-ball turnover, the dude was chugging down
court, hoping to blitz Boston into a tizzy of
His fifth dime was pure and
quintessential Warriors ball. Green played the role of conductor,
arranging everyone as he saw fit. Curry’s orbit lures his man to
the half-court logo. In doing so, he clears the wing for his buddy,
Klay Thompson, who zips to the rim and converts a beauty of a feed
The synergy, the spacing, the
movement, the execution — all are tenets as to why Golden State
still lords over the league seven years after this group’s first
ring. The Warriors are once again champions for those reasons,
concepts embodied and practiced by its two stars: Curry and
They are harmonically divergent
teammates who seized the moment when visions of a fourth
championship crystallized in front of them. The novel of this
Golden State season and era is written by them (and
There was no more suitable way
for another triumph to play out than with these all-timers
captaining the ship. They are the lifeblood of Golden State whose
identity cultivates through them. Thursday’s Game 6, the one that
delivered a crown back to The Bay, underlined such a notion at
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