Stephen Curry against LeBron James. Two of the best players in the NBA will face each other again starting this Tuesday in the Western semifinal. The Warriors will host in San Francisco the first game of a series that has something of déjà vu, since Curry’s team and James’ team met in four consecutive finals between 2015 and 2018 (three of them were for the Californians and the other went to Cleveland). The match will still be marked by the recital that the Golden State point guard gave on Sunday to eliminate the Sacramento Kings (120-100) in the last matchup. Curry scored 50 points and broke the scoring record for a seventh game. His performance gave oxygen to continue the title defense they achieved last year against the Celtics. The next stumbling block is the legendary Lakers.
“It gave me chills. Number 30 is just different,” Andrew Wiggins, the power forward, said Sunday of Curry’s performance. With half a hundred points, the point guard ousted Kevin Durant as the one who has scored the most points in a decisive game for a series. Durant, a former teammate of the Warrios, did it in 2021 wearing the Nets’ jersey in the Eastern semifinals against the Bucks. Before them, Sam Jones did it for the Celtics in 1963 (47) and Dominique Wilkins, the Hawks legend, in 1988 (47).
Curry averaged 33 points in the series against the Kings, who made the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. In his most low-key game, the star had 28. His historic performance Sunday, which included 7-for-18 3-pointers, began to take shape after a night of frustration. The Warriors let go at home of eliminating Sacramento in Game 6 on Friday, which they lost 118-99. Curry was upset with his team’s poor performance and couldn’t sleep. Minutes before 4 a.m., he exchanged text messages with Draymond Green, another mainstay of the team that has dominated the conference since 2015. Green was also sleepless at the prospect of elimination.
Steve Kerr, the Golden State coach, prepared a technical session on Saturday on the ninth floor of the Chase Center, where some videos of the Sacramento attack were going to be projected. The most important moment of that afternoon was not the images. Curry got up and told the teammates about him. “You know I don’t talk much, but I have something to say,” number 30 began. Everyone fell silent to hear it, according to The Athletic.
Curry encouraged his teammates by telling them they had enough to win, that he trusted them. He assured them victory if they all agreed to leave their feelings at home. He wanted faith and commitment from them, the witnesses of that private session said. “He has the same edge as other greats. The Mamba Mentality and all that shit. Steph has it. Maybe his forms are different, but we know that he is a murderer. Everybody knows that,” Jordan Poole said.
When the seventh game began, there was no trace of that leader who could not sleep due to nerves. Curry missed, rare for him, two free throws in the second quarter. The whole match he played with a smile on his face. When the referees whistled the end, it was another night for history. “Attitude can manifest many things,” announced number 30 to the press. “The smile was intentional. I just try to live in the present,” he added.
Curry will have to lead a series against LeBron James. The two figures have played 22 playoff games. The one from Golden State has won 15. The story starts from scratch for two legends looking for their fifth championship ring.
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