Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Stephen Curry makes the unbelievable believable

Earlier today, Stephen Curry became the first unanimous MVP in NBA history:

However, what Curry did last night may be even more impressive (unfortunately much of the country was asleep long before his overtime heroics took place around 1:30 a.m. Eastern).  In his first game back from a knee injury, the plan was for Curry to play roughly 25 minutes off the bench.

The Warriors had just two points halfway through the first quarter, and they trailed Portland 16-2 when Steph checked in at the 5:58 mark.

His presence on the floor helped rally his ballclub, but the reigning-MVP was noticeably rusty.  He air-balled his first three-pointer, badly.  In fact, Curry missed his first nine three-point attempts.  When backup point guard Shaun Livingston (who started in Curry's place) was ejected for arguing with the referee late in the second quarter, the game plan for limiting Steph's minutes went out the window (he ended up logging 37).

Curry finally connected on his first three of the night with just 4:35 to go in regulation to put his club up 103-100.  Before that bucket, he had 17 points on 8-for-20 shooting (0-of-9 from deep) through the game's first 43+ minutes.  Here's what Steph did over the last 9:35 of regulation and overtime: 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting, 5-of-7 from beyond the arc (some of which were absolutely ridiculous, see the clip below).  As soon as he hit that first trey, Curry was back:

He finished with 40 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Golden State's 132-125 OT victory.  In addition to posting the most prolific overtime period of all time (17 points)--regular season or playoffs--Curry also accomplished each of the following:

- First player other than LeBron James with a 40-9-8 stat line in the playoffs since Shaquille O'Neal in 2002.
- First player in the Basketball-Reference database (which goes back to 1984) to put up those numbers in the postseason off the bench.
- Just the second player since 1984 to score 40 as a reserve in a playoff game (along with Nick Van Exel in 2003).

Now here's why I titled this post the way I did: While watching the end of the fourth quarter and OT, nothing Curry did surprised me.  Once he got hot, I legitimately expected all of his bombs to drop.

No one has ever been as good at basketball as Steph Curry is right now.  He makes the unbelievable believable.

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