BOSTON — Stephen Curry isn’t one to show a ton of emotion over the course of a game. But Curry wore his heart on his sleeve all night as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-97 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Towards the end of the first quarter, after knocking down two consecutive 3-pointers, Curry ran to the other end of the court and started yelling at the Boston fans — something he does maybe once or twice down the stretch after a big shot , but rarely from the beginning moments.
“It felt like we just had to let everyone know we’re here tonight,” Curry said. “Whether that’s their crowd, their team, our team, whoever wants to see that energy and that fire, we feed on it.
Curry finished the game with 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including seven 3-point shots, and added 10 rebounds and four assists. He became only the fifth guard in NBA history to have at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a finals game.
“Incredible,” said Draymond Green. “Put us on his back. Wanted us to win. Much needed victory. This organization was able to lead him to so much success. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Green said he knew Curry wouldn’t let the Warriors lose. Kerr called his game “stunning”. Klay Thompson ranked it as Curry’s performance in the No. 1 final.
Curry doesn’t rate his performances but said he understood the importance of what he did on Friday night, especially given what was at stake. The result of Friday’s game would have either defeated the Warriors 3-1 or tied the series at two games each.
Curry made sure it was the latter.
“It’s all about knowing the sense of urgency we needed to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, regain home field advantage and try to create some momentum our way.” said Curry.
Curry scored 33 points in the first three quarters, a trend that has been consistent through the first three games of the series. But his problem area was the fourth quarter, where he averaged just three points on 30% field goal shooting. He had just six points in Games 1, 2 and 3 combined.
On Friday he scored 10 in the last frame. He had 24 total points in the second half, the most of his career in the second half of a finals game.
The fourth quarter is when the Warriors as a team put the clamps on the Celtics. Golden State beat Boston 15-0 in crunch time and became the first team in the last 50 seasons to win a finals game by at least 10 points after falling behind sometime in the last five minutes of the game.
“We helped each other, played together, played aggressively on defense and most importantly just finished,” Wiggins said. “You know, no rebounds grab. No offensive rebounds. Didn’t get points for second chances. So that was big.”
With just over a minute left and the Warriors on three, Green grabbed the offensive rebound from a missed three-pointer by Thompson. He matched it back to Curry but quickly got the ball back after the Celtics threw a double team at Curry. Green then passed the ball to Looney, who finished with a dunk over Al Horford.
Kerr called it the biggest bucket of the night. But it was Curry who carried her to the point where that shot could become a dagger.
“The things that he does, we take for granted from time to time,” Thompson said. “But to go out there and put us on his back, I mean we have to help him on Monday.”
Curry got some help on Friday from Thompson, who scored 18 points and downed four 3-pointers; Andrew Wiggins, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds; and Jordan Poole, who added 14 points. Kevon Looney, coming off the bench for the first time in the series, had 11 rebounds and finished with a net rating of plus 21.
But Curry outscored the rest of the Warriors’ starters, 43-39. At 34, he is the oldest player to do so in a Finals game since Michael Jordan, 35, in Game 6 against the Jazz in 1998.
Green struggled again and didn’t leave much of a mark on the game until his rebound late in the fourth. Kerr even chose to pull Green out of the game for offensive possession in the last five minutes of the game.
As Thompson said, the warriors know they must help Curry. But they don’t say they have to, sharing the brunt of scoring responsibility.
“When a guy’s on a streak like that, you just avoid him,” Thompson said.
Green added, “You’re just trying to do whatever you can to help him, to free him, to get him to his places, or to give him some space to create and get to his places can. For us we just have to keep filling. You’ve got a shot, do it… I think if everyone is powerful on offense, and that means with cuts, that means crisp with your passes, then you leave them in positions to do , what he does.”
Green said he knew Curry would play with an extra fire in Game 4 and said he could tell by observing Curry’s behavior in the days following their lackluster loss two days earlier.
Curry said he entered Game 4 because he knew he wanted to take over. He knew how quickly the momentum could change in the finals and if he could move his team to victory in Boston everything would be on their side.
“He wanted to come out with that kind of fire,” Green said. “And he did, and we could all follow him.”