Was it as monumental as Michael Jordan‘s “I’m Back” fax in 1995? No, but Stephen Curry chanting “I’m back, I’m back” after nailing a three late in the Game 4 victory in Portland made sure that no one forgot about him because of the injury. The injury that sidelined him for two weeks was a Grade 1 MCL Sprain, and after being reported as the MVP for this season, coach Kerr elected to bring him off the bench. The Warriors beat the Blazers 132-125 in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead.
Similar to Kevin Durant‘s performance against the Spurs on Monday, Curry got off to a very slow start. In under six minutes of action, Steph shot just 2/6 for four points and missed all three of his three-point attempts. Golden State had a ton of issue in the first and scored just 19 points on 28% shooting while Portland’s offense had more output; the Blazers finished with 26 points but on 31% shooting, and Damian Lillard was the leading scorer with ten on 3/8.
To be frank: the second quarter was an absolute shootout and left not a hint of defense. Not only did the Warriors put up 39 points, the Blazers still managed to outscore them with a 41-point explosion. Both teams shot at least 50% from the field (GSW 52%; POR 50%) but were also ultra-aggressive. A total of 21 personal fouls were called which led to each side attempting 19 free throws and making 14. Al-Farouq Aminu and C.J. McCollum were Portland’s leading scorers with nine, and Lillard hit seven free throws for all seven of his points. Stephen Curry had seven to lead the Warriors while Draymond Green and Marreese Speights had six apiece to keep the game close. Heading into halftime, Portland held a 67-57 lead.
The third quarter rolled around, and both offenses cooled off, for the most part. The Warriors were more locked in than Portland and finished with 29 while Klay Thompson hit four threes to double his scoring output from the first half; Curry still couldn’t find his range and shot 0/4 from three with two points total. Alongside Steph, Lillard had just as much trouble and finished the third scoreless on four shot attempts. Allen Crabbe and Gerald Henderson came off the bench for nine of the Blazers’ 18 points, and Mason Plumlee and Maurice Harkless each had four in the period. Portland’s lead had vanished, and they trailed 86-85 going into the fourth.
When you have two superstars who spend the first three quarters of the game struggling, it’s only fitting for them to get loose in the fourth quarter. This was precisely the case with Dame and Curry. After 36 minutes of action, both studs combined to shoot 9/36 overall and 2/21 from three. In the fourth, Stephen Curry went for ten points, 4/7 overall and 2/4 from deep; Lillard went for 12 on 4/8 and 2/3 from long range to force overtime.
After going two weeks without excessively talking about Steph’s play, he came out in overtime and scored a record 17 points on 6/7 shooting. Lillard did his best to shootout with him, but only had seven points in the period as the Golden State outscored the Blazers 21-14.
Stephen Curry finished as the game’s leading scorer with 40 but also finished with nine rebounds and eight assists; Klay Thompson was second on the team with 23. Draymond Green had a remarkable impact on defense with seven blocks and four steals to go along with his 21 points and nine rebounds — he’s the third player to do this since 1984, according to Basketball-Reference. Damian Lillard was the Blazers’ high scorer with 36 on 9/30 from the field.
Golden State can seal the series on Wednesday, May 11, at 10:30 PM EST at home.