73 wins and a unanimous MVP later, and Stephen Curry isn’t celebrating.
The Warriors just fell victim to one of sport’s worst meltdowns ever, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 7 games after leading the NBA finals 3-1.
You can blame it on LeBron James, and his inhuman like performance over the last games. You can blame it on Kyrie Irving, who hit the go ahead 3 pointer in the final minute of the series. You can blame it on the injuries, to Steph in the first round and to Andrew Bogut more recently. You can blame it on Harrison Barnes, who was stone cold the last 3 games. Some people are even choosing to blame it on Steve Kerr, saying he got out coached by Tyrone Lue.
No matter who you blame or how you think the historic collapse happened, if you are the Warriors you need to start looking forward.
A season that once had so much promise, starting 24-0 and losing only 9 regular season games, only 2 of them at home, has come to an end. The Warriors lost 9 games in the regular season, yet they lost 9 games in the playoffs, the ninth being the dagger.
There are contracts to be worked out, free agents to be recruited, injuries to rehab from, and for Steph, a question that needs to be addressed:
How do you move forward?
Does this become an asterix on a hall of fame career with many great years to come? Or does this mark the end of an incredible 2 years? Is it even possible for him to perform like he did these past two seasons again? Every game he played was essentially the game of his life, always finding new ways to blow us away. Was that him, or was that just a prolonged hot streak that we saw come to an end this past series?
Hitting a combined 688 threes in the past two regular seasons, including breaking his own record and recording an unfathomable 402 threes in this past year alone, as well as an effective shooting percentage nearing .500, it’s an act that is hard to imagine being followed up by a season even half as impressive.
But that’s what Steph has done. That’s why he was the unanimous MVP. Every time we think he’s reached as high as he’ll get, he proves us wrong. Whether it be hitting an unreal shot in Oklahoma City to take the lead with under a second left in overtime, or leading his team as they battle back from a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals. He always had more to show us.
So why is it that when it mattered the most, he didn’t deliver? Was it a lingering injury from round one? Was it just a mental block? Why is it that with the ball in his hands with 10 seconds left and a chance to cut the deficit to 1, he couldn’t do it?
The easiest answer is that he’s human. No player has ever played incredible in every game they’ve played. Whether you feel that the greatest of all time of Jordan or LeBron, or someone else for that matter, they all had down games or down stretches. Steph’s just came at a truly unfortunate time for the Warriors.
But for a guy who has been on top of the world for much of the past two years, you have to wonder if he can get back there after performing the way he did. It would be easy for him to start next season and play like the player we’ve seen these finals- talented, but not one of the best of all time. What would be truly impressive is if he can put together a year just half as good as this, and show the rest of the league and all of his doubters that he isn’t done. He’s far from it.
All Statistics From basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.