Heading into Game 5, Stephen Curry had hit a three-pointer in every single playoff game he had ever played in. That’s 132 in a row. The second-longest streak is held by Klay Thompson at 54.
The Boston Celtics held Curry to a 0-for-9 performance from within three-point range, ending his streak. His nine attempted threes are the most he’s ever done without a make. Boston played a historically great defense against the best shooter to ever walk the field.
And they wasted it.
They missed a chance to go 3-2 ahead in the NBA Finals when the series returned to Boston.
You missed a golden opportunity.
Part of that, of course, was simply that Curry had a cold night, but the Celtics put more pressure on him in Game 5 than any other game in the series. Boston chased Curry around all night, and no matter who was guarding him, the goal was simple: He mustn’t touch the ball. And while they were able to effectively deny Curry’s shots, it was the refusal of the ball that stood out the most.
Anyone who landed on Curry guarded their face. Her only concern was making sure he didn’t get his hands on the basketball. Check out Al Horford here. He barely pays attention to the rest of the court. He’s just worried about Curry.
Just look at how tightly Marcus covers Smart Curry in this piece. He puts Curry on the out of bounds line, which completely takes the Golden State Warriors’ point guard out of the game.
Curry is so great at getting off the ball that Boston barely had time to do anything but cover for him. Smart doesn’t even watch the game with that ball possession once Curry passes the ball. He turns to the rest of the court and wants to stop Curry from moving.
Boston’s ball-refusal defensive plan meant Curry rarely found room to work, and when he did, the Celtics were right there to deny his shot.
This was Curry’s first shot attempt of the game. He walked about 10 minutes without even getting a shot. And when he did, it was a competitive threesome in transition. Derrick White got well past the three-point line and slapped him in the face with his hand.
Curry didn’t even sniff the three-point line in Game 5. Every single three-pointer he took was at least 25 feet from the basket, and three of the nine three-point attempts were over 30 feet away. That means six of Curry’s threes were at least a foot behind the three-point line, and three of them were at least six feet behind.
In every other game in this series, Curry has scored at least five three-pointers. On Monday evening, that number dropped to zero. After setting the record for most consecutive Finals games with at least five three-pointers, his own record was broken by Boston’s stifling defense.
But it didn’t matter.
The Celtics’ own offensive problems prevented them from reaping the rewards of their own success. Boston once again stood in their own way, and while they may have been the best defensive team in the NBA this year, repeating the success they had guarding Curry in Game 5 will be a near-impossible task.