Passion and points: Stephen Curry gives Warriors everything they need in Game 4

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  1. BOSTON – Stephen Curry hatched a plan to show more fire and set a tone in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Draymond Green sensed a change in Curry’s demeanor immediately after the Warriors’ Game 3 loss Wednesday. After two days of stewing…
  2. Curry missed four of his first five shots, including all three 3-pointers. Some of them badly.

    But after hitting back-to-back 3s late in the third quarter, Curry seized the opportunity. As the Celtics called timeout, he took off to the opposite end of the court, yelling and pointing:

    Green got the message.

    “He wasn’t letting us lose,” Green said. “That’s what it boils down to.”

    Curry scored 43 points to lead Golden State to a 107-97 victory Friday. His best performance in an NBA Finals that already included a few gems puts him in even stronger position to claim the honor that has most infamously eluded him.

    Since Jerry West won the first NBA Finals MVP on the losing Lakers in 1969, everyone to average 32 points per game in the first four games of a Finals has won Finals MVP or lost the series.

    Curry is averaging 34.25 points per game against Boston, among the most every through the first four games of an NBA Finals:

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    Curry is shooting well. He went 7-for-14 on 3-pointers, 7-of-12 on 2-pointers and 8-of-9 on free throws Friday.

    But his volume really stands out.

    Curry’s usage percentage in the Finals (33.6) is higher than anyone’s in the last dozen years save LeBron James in 2015, when he did so much to carry the Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love injured. Curry’s usage even tops LeBron in 2016, another year he really put Cleveland on his back.

    Somewhat paradoxically, Boston’s elite defense makes Curry even more aggressive. With no weak links and several outstanding defenders, the Celtics can shut down Golden State’s more-intricate actions in the halfcourt that spread around the ball. That leaves it on the Warriors just to create for themselves, and who better to do that than Curry?

    Golden State no longer has Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson isn’t the same after his injuries. Though many are too quick to forget, Green used to help far more offensively.

    Now, so much falls on Curry.

    Who, not for nothing, was playing through a foot injury.

    “The heart on that man is,” Thompson said shaking his head, “incredible.

    “Wow!”

    Not only did Curry have such a high offensive output, he chipped in 10 rebounds. He also continued to set a spirited tone with multiple demonstrative celebrations and one two-footed stomping reaction after referees again didn’t call a foul as he drew contact on a jumper.

    Curry has scored more in a Finals game once before. He had 47 points in Game 3 against the Raptors in 2019. Golden State of course lost that series.

    After all these years of debating Curry’s play in this last round and especially his lack of Finals MVPs, he’s having his best Finals performance in another series the Warriors might lose. The teams are tied 2-2 entering Game 5 Monday in San Francisco.

    It’s too early to say what this game, what these Finals will mean for Curry’s legacy. Fairly or not, Golden State almost definitely must win for Curry to claim Finals MVP. The bar for even getting remembered positively in a Finals loss is LeBron-esque.

    But on a night the Warriors needed him more than ever – as a scorer, as an energizer – Curry came through.