San Fancisco—Golden State coach Steve Kerr saluted the “breathtaking” contribution of Stephen Curry after the Warriors star inspired a series-levelling victory over Boston in the NBA Finals on Sunday.
Curry led the scoring for the Warriors with 29 points in a 107-88 blowout that tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The 34-year-old two-time NBA MVP was at his majestic best in a third quarter that effectively decided the game as the Warriors outscored Boston 35-14.
Curry contributed 14 points to that third-quarter onslaught, and was also a key contributor to a steely Warriors defensive display that shut down Boston’s scoring.
“Steph was breathtaking in that quarter,” Warriors coach Kerr said afterwards.
“Not just the shot-making but the defensive effort. He just doesn’t get enough credit for his level of conditioning, physicality and defense.
“People go at him to try to wear him down because they know how important he is to us offensively.”
At 6ft 2in (1.88m) and weighing in at around 185 pounds (84kg), Curry has often faced criticism of being “too small” for the NBA despite establishing himself as one of the greatest players in history.
Kerr said Curry’s physique had evolved since he arrived at Golden State.
“The difference in Steph’s strength and physicality in his body now than from eight years ago when I first got here is pretty dramatic,” Kerr said.
“The guy’s amazing. He just keeps working on his game, his strength, his conditioning year after year, and it’s a pleasure to watch him play every night.”
Curry says attitude has played as much a part in his success as his physical conditioning.
“It’s been a physical development that’s happened over time that obviously helps, a lot of work that’s gone into that,” Curry said.
“But at the end of the day, from my rookie year to now, it’s always been about effort and just a care factor … If you try hard, good things will happen. And you’ll continue to get better.
“It’s always been a point of emphasis. Just better at it now.”
Golden State’s defensive general Draymond Green said Curry doesn’t get enough credit for his defensive prowess.
“I’ve been talking about it the last couple years how much he’s improved on that side of the ball,” Green said.
“Teams used to try to call him into every action, and just try to pick on him.
“That doesn’t work anymore. He sits down, he guards, and we all are there behind him if he does need help. But he hasn’t been needing that often, and it’s great.
“I’ve spoken about how much stronger he is. He’s able to hold his ground, so you’re not able to bump him off his spot, and that’s been huge for us. I’m not shocked he’s playing that type of defense. He’s been doing that for the last couple years.”