Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry, much like New York Yankees great Derek Jeter, has always been a reserved leader who leads more by example rather than rah-rah locker room enthusiasm. He exhibits greatness on the court and has the championship rings to back it up, so he is beloved regardless of leadership style. But sometimes a little extra flare is necessary.
And it seems that might have been the catalyst for the Dubs' epic Game 7 victory vs. the Sacramento Kings in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. Curry and Draymond Green were left restless after the team blew their golden opportunity in Game 6 Friday night to finish off the Kings in the Chase Center.
“They exchanged messages about their embarrassment, how Kings guard Malik Monk called them old, about the fractured focus they’ve witnessed in their huddle,” The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II and Shams Charania wrote. “Green was prepared to speak to the team, to try galvanizing the bunch. But Curry was fed up enough to tell Green, ‘let me take this one.' That was all Green needed to hear.”
A listless effort forced the team to win back-to-back road games in a crazed, postseason-starved environment. Two of the foundational pieces of this dynasty knew action needed to be taken leading up to the do-or-die showdown. Motivation usually falls under Green's expertise, but Curry felt that this impassioned battle speech had to come from him. Evidently, it worked for both the team and himself.
He put together one of his greatest postseason performances of all-time, scoring 50 points on 20-of-38 shooting along with six assists and eight rebounds to lift the Warriors to the 120-100 victory in Sacramento. On the surface, it looks as if Steph Curry carried the team, but they all “bought in” like he asked of them in what Andrew Wiggins called a “chilling” speech.
Although Klay Thompson and Wiggins both struggled from the field, it was still a collective display of defensive intensity and grit. Kevon Looney was a monster on the offensive glass and had his third game of the series with 20 or more rebounds.
If they maintain the same drive and focus that Curry just infused in them, the defending champs will remain a problem for the entire Western Conference.