With a sensational Game 5 in this year’s NBA Finals fresh on our minds, it’s a fine time to reflect on another Game 5, one that’s close to the heart of Golden State Warriors fans.
This season, it’s the Bucks that took a 3-2 series lead with a Game 5 win against the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday night. Back in 2015, however, Warriors guard Stephen Curry stepped into the great unknown and delivered a masterpiece to take control of the series by the same margin against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Relive Curry’s brilliance by watching the video below, courtesy of Warriors superfan, Antonin. The stats he provides are eye-popping and also verified via Basketball Reference.
Reliving this performance begs the question: why didn’t Curry earn the NBA Finals MVP? As great as Curry was in Game 5, he incredibly never garnered legit consideration for the award.
The Warriors had fallen behind 2-1 in the series, and though the Cavaliers suffered an injury to G Kyrie Irving, James’ experience (and his top form at the time) figured to be enough to keep a young Golden State squad down. Curry was solid but not spectacular to that point, and downright struggled in Game 2, hitting just 5-of-23 field goals.
Coach Steve Kerr inserted forward Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup in place of center Andrew Bogut in Game 4, however (as hardened Warriors fans certainly know), giving a boost to Kerr’s motion offense and unleashing Curry. As a result, Iguodala (who also hit a ton of clutch shots) rightfully won the Finals MVP in 2015 when Golden State won in six games.
But with the benefit of hindsight, it sure does seem that Curry was the MVP. Regardless, every NBA fan knows the Warriors would not of won without him, and this Game 5 performance is legendary. Though many dismiss defeating James — one of the best of all time — because of Cleveland’s injury issues, I contend that when the Warriors were down 2-1 and tied at 2-2, James’ experience and greatness could have been enough to beat a still-green Warriors squad making their first trip to the NBA Finals.
Golden State persevered, however, and Warriors fans and observers can look back on the series fondly, just as either Bucks or Suns fans will look back on this year’s NBA Finals, with either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat bubbling to the surface.