Stephen Curry had awful game Game 5… for an NBA Finals MVP

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Stephen Curry yelled into his jersey seemingly in frustration as he left the court after shooting 1-for-10 on 3-pointers in the Warriors’ Game 3 win in the 2018 NBA Finals.

Maybe he hid his anger better this time. After all, he struck a happier tone in the press conference following his 2018 dud. But Curry was all smiles in his press conference after shooting 0-for-9 on 3-pointers and scoring just 16 points last night.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier after a 0-for-whatever type of night,” Curry said following Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Celtics.

Curry was pleased because the Warriors are one game from a championship. And he certainly helped them get here – even last night. A highly threatening shooter, Curry maximized his gravity with relentless motion with and without the ball. He kept the ball moving, dishing eight assists. He found creases inside the arc, shooting 7-for-13 on 2-pointers.

But missing all nine of his 3-pointers really dents the value he provided his team.

As amazing as Curry is, he has underwhelmed in the Finals more often than his all-time great peers. Last night was another example.

Curry’s Game Score yesterday was just 8.7. That statistic based on box-score numbers is far from perfectly representative  – especially for someone, like Curry, whose contributions often don’t show up in the stat sheet. But Game Scores are telling, and an 8.7 is jarringly low. It’s barely half the worst Game Score posted by a Finals MVP in the previous six years.

Here are the game-by-game NBA Finals Game Scores for Finals MVPs since 2016 with Curry’s 2022 Finals included for posterity:

If he closes the series strong, Curry should win Finals MVP. Even if he struggles to the finish, Curry could win Finals MVP. He has been that good – Game 5 included – overall so far.

But that Game 5 stands out beyond just recent history.

It’d rank among the lowest Finals Game Scores by a Finals MVP since 1978 (as far back as Basketball-Reference) has data:

Curry is one of the very greatest players of all-time – trending toward the top 10, if he isn’t there already. He’s the best shooter ever. He has won two MVPs, including the only one ever voted unanimously. He remains in his prime and keeps building his resumé.

The debate about Curry’s lack of a Finals MVP has gone off the rails. That single honor shouldn’t define Curry’s legacy – or even his play in the Finals. He has performed pretty well on this level.

But for a player of his caliber, he has had some low moments in the Finals.

Last night included.