DAR Sports: The Playoff Prowess Of Steph Curry

By @TrueGodImmortal

So, this might seem like a biased take from me, and I honestly don't care if you feel it is. The truth is not biased and it cannot be denied. Say what you will, but Steph Curry is one of the most consistent playoff performers of all time. Period. While some have criticized him for years like they've also criticized James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the way people go at Steph and his minor mishaps or bad games throughout the playoffs is amazing. Steph has for the last 7 years been involved in the playoffs and has shown up when needed just about every time. There have been little moments in the career of Steph that resemble the Tragic Johnson debacle that plagued Magic, the greatest point guard ever, for some years. There have been no moments where Steph completely melted down like LeBron did in the 2011 Finals, and honestly, the one series where Steph wasn't as good as he could have been, he was clearly injured. That's not an excuse. Big time players make the best of what they are given. For all the love and hate that Kobe Bryant has, there will always be the 2004 Finals standing as the biggest blip on his resume, but that is what makes the greats so great. They fall, they fail, they get back up, and they win. Steph Curry is a prime example of that. He is a big time playoff performer, and today, we dispel the notion that Steph doesn't show up in the postseason. Let's look at the best performances from Steph in the playoffs.

*2013 Playoffs
(First Round vs Denver Nuggets)

-Instead of pinpointing one game where Steph shined the most, let's take a look at the entire series, where Steph proved he was a force in the making. Coming off his best season by far, and his career high, star moment against the Knicks in the regular season, this would be the first time we would see Steph in the playoffs, and he didn't disappoint. Steph averaged 24.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 9.3 APG during the series, shooting 47% from the field, 44% from the three point line, and he didn't miss a single free throw. That Nuggets team was super formidable, and despite the bad Game 5 that Steph had, it would be the decisive performances from Steph in Games 2, 3, and 4 that really shaped the series. The Warriors would win in 6 in what many considered a big upset and they would set out for their biggest challenge thus far, the Spurs dynasty in the second round.

*2013 Playoffs
(Semifinals vs San Antonio Spurs, Game 1)

-This game is pivotal in the career of Steph for so many reasons. For one, the Warriors lost this game. Secondly, Steph would get hurt in this series and he was never quite the same after. However, in this game, Steph kept the Warriors alive and they almost stole a game from the second seed Spurs to open the series. Imagine if Golden State wins Game 1 and also take Game 2, as they did in this series? The truth is, if the Warriors would have managed to get beyond the Spurs, it would have possible that they could have ended up in the NBA Finals to represent the West in their first playoff appearance in years. Steph would light the AT&T Center on fire, finishing with 44 points and 11 assists, but it was not enough to overcome the mighty Spurs. Still, despite the loss, Steph showed exactly the type of player he is. The Spurs would win this series, but the Warriors would let the world know that they were coming.

*2014 Playoffs
(First Round vs Los Angeles Clippers, Game 4)

-The Warriors started off the series with a surprise win in LA. They seemed focused. Poised. Then they would end up losing the next game by 40 points. Under Mark Jackson, they weren't quite ready just yet for the big time. However, after a tough Game 3 loss that came down to the final seconds, the Warriors needed a big game from their star point guard and Steph delivered. 33 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists helped push the Warriors to a 21 point win over the Clippers and tie the series at 2-2. The Warriors were showing they had what it takes to compete on the playoff level, but they just needed that extra step before reaching championship contender. They would make that step the following season under a new coaching staff.

*2015 Playoffs
(First Round vs New Orleans Pelicans)

-Up until that point, Steph had yet to have that huge breakout series, but he was ready in 2015. The MVP would shine bright throughout this series, exploiting the Pelicans and their defense, while putting amazing averages in the series of 33.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 7.3 APG in a four game sweep. Game 1 would see Steph lead the Warriors to a 106-99 victory with a 34 point, 4 rebound, and 5 assist performance from the Baby Faced Assassin. The most impactful performance of the entire series however, came in Game 3, as Steph would put up 40 points to lead the Warriors back from a huge double digit deficit to win the game in OT. Steph would cap off the series with an equally brilliant performance in the closing Game 4, as he nearly dropped a triple double to advance to the next round, as he finished with 39 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. The Warriors advanced to the second round and it was mostly due to the brilliance of Steph, who scored over 30 points three times in the 4 game sweep.

*2015 Playoffs
(Semifinals vs Memphis Grizzlies, Games 4 and 6)

-So, the second round proved to be more challenging for Steph. As always, a physical defensive team causes minor problems for the Warriors. However, after the Grizzlies took a 2-1 series lead, the Warriors needed their star to step up, and they would get a high powered performance from Steph, as he finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists on an efficient shooting night to tie the series. While Game 5 was a solid team effort, Game 6 was on the road and of course required another big performance from Steph. He would finish the night with 32 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists on a very efficient shooting night from three, including a near full court shot that hit at the end of the 3rd that pretty much took the life out of Memphis. This was the moment that Steph had finally arrived, and he was ready to show what he could do when the lights were bright.

*2015 Playoffs
(Western Conference Finals vs Houston Rockets, Games 1-5)

-After a magnificent first round series and clutch performances in the second round, Steph was ready to show and prove against the man many were saying was the MVP over him that season, James Harden. Steph would come prepared and in kill mode during this series, starting with Game 1, as he finished with 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on a very efficient shooting night. Game 2 would see yet another solid night for Steph, as his 33 points and 6 assists helped catapulted the Warriors to a 2-0 series lead (Klay and Steph's defense against Harden on the final possession also helped). However, his biggest moment came in Game 3. With the Warriors on the road and in need of a big road win, Steph would drop 40 points and 7 assists along with hitting 7 three pointers, as the Warriors blew out the Rockets, 115-80 to take a 3-0 lead. Game 4 would see a solid Harden performance and the lone Rockets win in the series, but Game 5 would once again see Steph and company victorious and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time. Steph finished that series averaging 31.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 5.6 APG while shooting 52% from the field and 49% from three. Make no mistake about it, Steph Curry had officially arrived and this postseason was the proof.

*2015 Playoffs
(NBA Finals vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 5)

-While Andre Iguodala won the Finals MVP award, the real winner of this award should have been Steph Curry. If one game can change the course of a series then Game 5 should have solidified the Steph FMVP win. For some reason, despite playing well in Game 1 and hitting game tying and winning shots when needed, as well as sending Game 2 into OT, while helping the Warriors stay close in Game 3 near the final minutes, Steph gets little credit for being the best player on the team that won the title. It is mind boggling. His performance in Game 4 was the offensive driving force for their win, and with the series tied 2-2, the Warriors needed their star to show up and lead them to a victory. With both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes playing poorly on the offensive end, Steph carried his team to a pivotal Game 5 victory in the Finals, finishing with an efficient 37 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Of all the performances in the 2015 playoffs, this was the most important, as Steph showing up led the Warriors to the victory and a title win. The media robbed Steph of his rightful Finals MVP due to their odd obsession with LeBron, but make no mistake about it, Steph showed up in the biggest game of his career up until that point.

*2016 Playoffs
(Semifinals vs Portland Trailblazers, Game 4)

-The infamous "I'm Here, I'm Back" game. Steph was clearly not 100% healthy when he returned and he started out the game pretty rough. However, as the game went on, he got his flow going, his shot started falling, and he couldn't be stopped. He hit three after three in the most clutch moments, pushing his team to a big victory and finishing with 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. It was one of the most important playoff games of that season, and easily stands out as one of Steph's brightest moments in the playoffs and his career.

*2016 Playoffs
(Western Conference Finals vs Oklahoma City Thunder, Games 5-7)

-So, Steph had a very rough first few games of this series, and it was clear he wasn't nearly as comfortable as he was in the regular season when he was fully healthy. Steph had a pretty significant injury and returned only after missing a week, instead of probably taking the full 3 weeks he likely need to heal. Regardless, Steph would find himself and his team down 3-1 and in need of a historic comeback. They would pull off a major comeback, starting with Game 5 that was powered by an excellent showing on both ends from Steph, as he finished with 31 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and an amazing 5 steals. The Warriors would live to fight another day and move onto Game 6, which is famous for the amazing Klay Thompson performance. Klay was the star of that game, but Steph was also right there every step of the way, finishing with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and he would make a clutch steal in the final moments to seal the game. Finally, in the pivotal Game 7, Steph would drop an efficient 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists to complete the 3-1 comeback, and push the Warriors to the NBA Finals in back to back seasons. In those three games, Steph would average 32.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 7.7 APG to push his team to the NBA Finals once again. Steph showed once again that he could get it done, even if he was playing while injured.

*2016 Playoffs
(NBA Finals vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 4)

-So, the first two games of this series were blowouts in favor of Golden State, while Game 3 saw Cleveland win in a blowout. Following some subdued and weaker performances from Steph, the Warriors needed to rebound and take full control of the series with a win. Steph would show up and play his hardest, though it was visible at times that his mobility and his speed were a little limited at times. Regardless, Steph finished the game with 38 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists to push the Warriors to a win and a 3-1 series lead. We all know the story of what happened following this win, and while Steph could have showed up more in those first 3 games of the series, in the last 4 games, he would average 27.5 PPG, but where he was much less effective was in the other aspects of his game. Steph would not rack up assists or rebounds, yet another sign that he was clearly far from 100%. Still, this Game 4 performance is one of his greatest, and one could only imagine how revered Steph really would have been if he would have closed out this series in 5 and celebrated back to back titles and a possible FMVP (that year was definitely up in the air).

*2017 Playoffs
(First Round vs Portland Trailblazers, Games 3 and 4)

-KD would get hurt in this series in the first game and miss two straight games, while being limited in the last game of the series, but Steph and company would hold down the fort. Steph had a solid Game 3, finishing with 34 points and 8 assists, as he and Klay Thompson would help erase a big Portland lead to win the game and make the series 3-0 (this is a theme we will see again later on). Game 4 was the closeout game and the Warriors came out firing, with the game never really being close. Steph finished with 37 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, but most of all, he made it look virtually easy.

*2017 Playoffs
(Western Conference Finals vs San Antonio Spurs, Games 1 and 4)

-So, with the series starting off in Oracle, the Spurs came out firing and took a 20 point lead over the Warriors. The Warriors offense seemed stagnant, seemed lost, and the only people who seemingly had rhythm on the court offensively were Steph and KD. Steph would help lead the charge and the Warriors mounted an epic comeback to win Game 1 on the back of Steph, who finished with 40 points and 7 rebounds. With the Warriors one game away from advancing to the NBA Finals once again, Steph would show up  and deliver a solid performance to close out the Spurs, finishing his Game 4 night with 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Steph would finish that series averaging 31.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.0 SPG on an extremely efficient 56% from the field, 47% from three, and 90% from the free throw line.

*2017 Playoffs
(NBA Finals vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Games 1, 2, 3, and 5)

-If we are being honest about his best performance in the NBA Finals, this was it. Steph was healthy, focused, and he had a double double in every game in the Finals. That alone is amazing, and while Kevin Durant was the Finals MVP and rightfully so, Steph was right there playing his best while slightly deferring to KD. Steph would have a solid and efficient Game 1, finishing with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists, along with a 32 point triple double in Game 2, finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. The offensive trio of Steph, Klay, and KD were firing on all cylinders in Game 3, as Klay finished with 30 points, KD had an amazing game finishing with 31 points, while Steph once again had a solid all around game, finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. In the pivotal Game 5, Steph would have yet another excellent game with 34 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals. Over these 4 games, Steph would average 30.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 9.3 APG, showing that when the lights were bright and duty called, he would be there to answer. Aside from a rough shooting night in Game 4, Steph was excellent throughout this Finals while still facing double and triple teams despite having Kevin Durant on the court with him.

*2018 Playoffs
(Western Conference Finals vs Houston Rockets, Games 3, 6, 7)

-After returning from a 6 week injury, Steph struggled to find his rhythm on the floor and while he did manage to get his shot going at times, it wasn't until Game 3 where he finally found his groove. His 35 points catapulted the Warriors to a 2-1 lead and this is probably his most famed performance of the series. Game 6 was mostly about Klay and his great game, but Steph caught fire in the second half, finishing with 29 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and a shocking 3 blocks. Game 7 was a pivotal moment, and with Steph showing up and leading the second half comeback once again, almost registering a triple double as he finishes with 29 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 steals to once again help push the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals.

*2018 Playoffs
(NBA Finals vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Games 1, 2, and 4)

-In the NBA Finals, many have criticized Steph for "not showing up", but aside from a rough shooting night in Game 3, Steph was once again magnificent in the NBA Finals. His aggressiveness in Game 1 and his clutch basket making near the final moments helped keep the Warriors alive and pushed it to OT, while his playmaking helped win the game in OT. Steph finished with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists as the Warriors took a 1-0 lead. He would break the NBA Finals record for most threes in a game, hitting 9 threes and dominating the fourth quarter to close out the Cavs, as he ended his night with 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. The closing game of the Finals saw Steph seemingly shooting and going for 50, but he finished with 37 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. Over that three game stretch in the Finals, Steph averaged 33.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 7.0 APG, taking the narrative that he "doesn't show up" and once again obliterating it.

*2019 Playoffs
(First Round vs Los Angeles Clippers, Game 1)

-This was one of Steph's most exciting performances, as he showed just how hard he can play, as he was efficient, played solid defense, and grabbed rebounds like a 7 footer. Steph finished with 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists, as the Warriors took an expected 1-0 lead over the Clippers.

*2019 Playoffs
(Semifinals vs Houston Rockets, Game 6)

-One of the most exciting performances in Steph's career came as he made history to send the Rockets home for the 4th time in 5 years. Klay Thompson kept the Warriors in the game for the first half, but after the second quarter, Steph seemed to lock in completely. He went to the locker room at halftime with 0 points and seemed to be struggling to find his rhythm. The second half would see Steph put in an all time performance, as he put up 33 points in the second half to close out the Rockets. 10 points in the third quarter, 23 points in the fourth. Steph was doing all of this with a dislocated finger, and it remains my favorite performance from him this recent postseason.

*2019 Playoffs
(Western Conference Finals vs Portland Trailblazers)

-The Blazers were swept by the Warriors for the second time in 3 years. In both series, Kevin Durant either missed multiple games or missed the entire series. With no KD in this series, Steph takes on most of the responsibilitied for his team's offense, finishing the series with the best numbers of his playoff career as he put up 36.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 7.3 APG on 47% from the field, 43% from three, and 94% from the free throw line. Keep in mind, he did all of this with a dislocated finger. Steph was magnificent the entire series, putting up 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists in Game 1, along with 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in Game 2. Game 3 on the road saw the Warriors have to overcome yet another double digit deficit, as Steph would help will his team to victory with 36 points and 6 rebounds, while Game 4 saw him put up a big time triple double, closing out the Blazers in OT with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. From the beginning to the end, Steph was outstanding in this series.

*2019 Playoffs
(NBA Finals vs Toronto Raptors, Games 1, 3, and 5)

-So, for all of the odd number games, Steph seemed to show up and play his heart out. With a dislocated finger, an Achilles injury to Kevin Durant, and a late Game 6 ACL injury to Klay Thompson, the Warriors were down and beaten. However, Steph would try his best to carry his team to a win, averaging 30.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 6.0 APG in a 6 game series loss. Game 1 saw Steph try to will his team to victory, as he would finish with 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, but it wasn't enough. His heroic effort in Game 3 was outstanding, as he went out there without Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, and put up an amazing 47 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. However, it wasn't enough. Still, Steph kept fighting and in Game 5, with the Warriors down 3-1, Steph would hit a clutch three to go along with his 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. For all the talk of "Steph doesn't show up in the Finals", during this particular three game period, he would average 37.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.3 APG. Steph would have been immortalized if he could have pulled off the victory against the Raptors in this series, but regardless, he went down swinging. If the Warriors had forced a Game 7 and Steph would have managed to pull out the comeback, the discussion on his career would be different. There aren't many with better playoff resumes than Steph, and it's time the world finally gives him the credit he deserves.



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