The Golden State Warriors last dropped three straight games in November of 2013 when Mark Jackson was still coaching Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. However, current head coach Steve Kerr, along with Curry and Thompson, allowed that exact feat to occur on their own home floor Sunday evening by a score of 93-89 in favor of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors’ 73-win season was underscored by dominant wins, like Curry’s 54 point, 9 assist, and 4 steal performance against New Orleans in the third game of the season, and narrow escapes, like a 40-foot three-pointer that beat the buzzer against Oklahoma City on February 27.
However, a season filled with pure victory for the Warriors ended ironically in defeat. Golden State glided through eight months of an NBA season that every other team found to be a war, only to be met with the only negative fate possible: the Warriors, specifically Steph Curry, could not play with desperation.
After a cruise control regular season fell behind them, the Warriors found themselves playing the Houston Rockets in the first series of the postseason. 2015 NBA MVP runner-up James Harden unleashed 35 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in game three to keep the Steph Curry-less Warriors honest, yet nobody cared and rightfully so; Golden State subsequently won the next two games with a point differential of +60.
Curry failed to return until game four of the next series against the Trail Blazers, but the media did not panic. Steph Curry came off the bench to drop 40 points, including 17 in overtime, to seal a 3-1 series lead and dash the hopes of Portland’s fans.
The Oklahoma City Thunder swaggered over to Oracle Arena to meet the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and gut-checked Golden State by stealing game one. The otherwise-outright favorite was, indeed, vulnerable. The Warriors could not return the favor in Oklahoma City and found themselves trailing 3-1 in the series. However, Golden State did not panic and realized what needed to pan out: win game five at home, steal game six in Oklahoma City, and be right back where you want to be. Despite how deep of a hole the Warriors dug for themselves, neither the media nor the fans believed Golden State was finished. When the final ticks ran off the clock in game seven, headlines began flooding onto ESPN.com, reading about the Thunder’s inability to slay the beast and the Warrior’s continuation towards complete basketball greatness. Doubt surfaced but never fermented, and Steph Curry and friends kept walking forward as if they had just come away with a series sweep.
Finally, the Warriors weighed-in against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers lost only two games in the postseason prior to meeting the Warriors and refused to back down. Golden State flexed their muscles and nabbed three of the first four games. However, after leading the series 3-1, the Warriors infamously fumbled away three straight, two of those games being played in Oracle Arena. The team that put up a league-leading 114.9 points per game in the regular season averaged only 95.6 in the last three games. The unanimous NBA MVP that tossed up over 30 points a night on over 50% shooting regressed to 36.6% during the final three contests. Overall, LeBron James will place another Larry O’Brien Trophy in the case and do so for the entire city of Cleveland while Curry watches and only gets to cling to memories of hoisting that trophy a season ago.
Steph Curry averaged 22.6 points and 3.7 assists in the final seven contests of 2016 versus the Cavaliers. After being hobbled by injuries and missing time early in the playoffs, Curry was asked in a press conference after game seven if he plans to get any work done with his knee in the offseason to possibly remedy his performance. Curry responded, “I won’t get injured celebrating tonight. I can tell you that much.”
When asked if he felt responsible for the loss, Curry adamantly assured, “of course.” After a 73-win regular season and a comeback of great magnitude against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Steph Curry failed to effectively lead the Warriors when he needed to the most. Steph now must take a step toward a direction fans have not seen from him before: a path towards coming back better
Steph Curry led Davidson University, a stereotypical minor conference system that normally only sniffs the outskirts of the NCAA Tournament after an automatic birth, by his lonesome to the Elite Eight and only fell to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks. Curry entered the NBA and increased the win totals for the Warriors every single year–aside from the lockout-shortened 2011 season. In 2015, Curry held the Warriors together for a playoff run that ended in a dominant series victory against the depleted Cleveland Cavaliers, strung loosely by LeBron James. For the past two seasons, Steph Curry has been crowned NBA MVP, but now he has missed an opportunity to be great.
Before game seven, Klay Thompson revealed that “[if we don’t win] we’d feel like we failed.” Curry certainly agreed afterwards by venting, “it hurts, man.”
“At the end of the day, you congratulate them for doing what they set out to do,” Curry added rubbing his face. The Cavs set out to blitz the Warriors at every turn and they did just that. LeBron James came well-equipped with the mindset and wisdom that would trounce even the toughest opponent he could face, and Golden State simply was unable to adapt. Steph Curry and the Warriors ultimately floundered during a situation before which they never have.
By: Oscar Rzodkiewicz