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Everything starts and ends with Steph

It was clear from the outset that Stephen Curry resolved to play better in Game Four of the National Basketball Association Finals. For all the deficiencies of the Warriors in the previous match, he understood that everything started and ended with him. And while he started out well at TD Garden in Game Three, he ended badly; a basket and a dime to accompany three turnovers and four missed shots in most certainly explained why they scored just 11 in the fourth quarter and ultimately bowed by 16. In short, he knew that he could carve the outcome of the first championship series match hosted by the Celtics in 12 years with his performance: Anything less than a singular showing would further tilt the balance of the best-of-seven affair against them.

That Curry would come up with exactly what the Warriors needed was, perhaps, to be expected. He was due for a breakout on the sport’s grandest stage — not the kind of supposition you would expect of a two-time Most Valuable Player awardee in his sixth title series appearance in eight years. And, under the circumstances, it was fitting that his star was brightest precisely when just about everyone else didn’t exactly live up to billing. Defensive anchor Draymond Green was once again a bust, and splash brother Klay Thompson still didn’t have the legs to provide more than mere support alongside the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and, yes, Kevon Looney. 

True, the Warriors claimed Game Four on the strength of their stout defense in the crunch, during which they outscored the Celtics 17 to three. Then again, they would not have been able to generate as much offense against the equally stingy coverage of the competition had Curry not come up with 10 markers and required constant attention in the payoff period. Little wonder, then, that even fellow marquee names following the proceedings could not help but sing his praises on social media.

Indeed, the 43 (on 26 shots), 10, and four Curry put up stands as proof of his best Finals performance ever. He’s not done, though. If the Warriors want to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, he can’t be done. He will welcome the myriad advantages that familiar Chase Center brings, and he needs to use them all in order to carry the rest of the blue and yellow on his shoulders. The Celtics have never lost back-to-back outings yet in the 2022 Playoffs for a reason, not least of which is superior play on the road. There’s one thing they don’t have, however. They don’t have him, and he’s bent on ensuring that it will make all the difference.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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