In appreciation of Steph Curry having Warriors one win from NBA Finals return

·5 min read

In appreciation of Steph having Warriors one win from Finals originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

DALLAS -- Steph Curry dazzles, shimmies and makes us shake our head of disbelief every time the Warriors star steps on the floor. Maybe we've come to be too used to it all by now.

Andrew Wiggins again earned headlines with his 27-point, 11-rebound double-double Sunday night in the Warriors' 109-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals as Golden State took a three-games-to-none series lead. It helps throwing down a poster dunk on a star like Luka Doncic, too.

Kevon Looney has been showered with flowers, Klay Thompson has had a handful of big nights after missing the last two seasons to devastating leg injuries, Draymond Green remains the heart and voice of the franchise and Jordan Poole has made us wonder at times how big his payday will be -- possibly as soon as this offseason.

Then there's Curry, who continues to smash the record books on his way to having the Warriors now one win away from his sixth trip to the NBA Finals.

"Steph was brilliant tonight," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the win. "His conditioning level is amazing. They're putting him in every pick-and-roll. He's out there flying defensively and then playing at such a high level offensively. It's remarkable to watch him play."

In over 39 minutes played, Curry led the Warriors with 31 points. He shot 50 percent from the field (10-for-20), 50 percent on 3-pointers (5-for-10) and made all six of his free throws. We know all about his powers. This isn't a one-dimensional superstar or superhero, though. His tool belt could be too heavy for his skinny waist and would weigh every bit as much as his 185-pound frame.

Curry also dished 11 assists and snatched five rebounds. He was a plus-19 in plus-minus.

Back to his ultimate weapon real quick. Curry put together his 53rd playoff game with at least five 3-pointers. No other player in NBA history even has 30 such games of such prowess.

There were talks throughout the season of Steph losing a step with his shot. His 38 percent clip from deep in the regular season was a new career-low, as was his 43.7 percent overall from the field. Curry now has made at least five 3-pointers six times in this playoff run, and is only getting better the closer he gets to a fourth championship ring. Through the first three games of the conference finals, Curry now is shooting 49.1 percent overall against the Mavs and 48.3 percent from downtown.

He's averaging 28.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. Three games, three wins with Curry sniffing out a showdown against the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics.

Then there's the age factor.

Curry now is 34 years old. He's in his 13th season and his eighth trip in the playoffs. Sunday night marked his seventh game of scoring at least 30 points during these playoffs alone. The only other players to have at least seven performances of scoring 30-plus points at that age in a single postseason? Michael Jordan and LeBron James. That's the kind of conversation Curry belongs in, alongside the two greatest players in basketball history.

"He's being extremely, extremely aggressive, and that's what we need," Green said of his longtime teammate. "I think he's always been aggressive. I don't really see any difference other than maturity. You know what they expect now. You know how to win. You know all of these things.

"So I think the biggest thing I see is maturity, just being ready and knowing what it takes in these situations."

Remembering to appreciate the now and appreciating the moment feels like a bit of a lost art. We all want the next big thing, everyone wants to anoint the next king or queen. Look no further than the West finals.

Or as others might have crowned it, Steph vs. Luka.

Curry is 11 years older than Doncic. He has everything the Mavs star wants as a basketball player with his multiple MVPs and championships. Curry's been here and on this stage for a long time now. This is Doncic's first taste of the conference finals. He's supposed to be next.

Truth is, Doncic is here in the now and he isn't going anywhere. He already has made three NBA All-Star teams, won Rookie of the Year, been named to two All-NBA teams and is about to be named to his third. With all that being said, did Curry find extra motivation in going head-to-head against the 23-year-old Doncic going into this series?

"Y'all know, I hear everything," Curry said. "That's not the motivation, though. The motivation is the fact that we are back on this stage with the opportunity to chase a Finals appearance again after two years hiatus, and like I said, being back with our core but with a new cast of characters, it's an opportunity to do something special.

"I don't need any extra motivation. It's just trying to take advantage of the opportunity knowing they are not going to come -- you shouldn't take it for granted. There's a limit to how this goes."

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Steph isn't taking a second for granted back here in the playoffs, and everyone tuning in should do the same when they watch him. He's the past, he's the present and you damn sure shouldn't doubt he'll still stand on the mountain top in the future.

Appreciate it. All of it. It isn't going to last forever, and it still remains the main reason the Warriors find themselves one win away from where they feel home in the NBA Finals.

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