Not LeBron James or Kevin Durant. The best player in the 2018 NBA Finals so far and the main reason the Golden State Warriors are up 2-0 is Stephen Curry, perhaps out to prove a point in the quest for his third championship ring in four years.
Curry is the Warriors leading scorer in the series with a total of 62 points through the first two games. He scored 29 in game 1, including the and-1 layup that put the Warriors ahead and forced the weird George Hill free throws + J.R. Smith brain malfunction. The Warriors might have finished the game before overtime had they turned more to Curry, who was making mince meat of whatever matchup in front of him.
In game 2 the Warriors didn’t make that mistake. The ball moved well, Durant didn’t isolate to the point of redundancy and Curry couldn’t stop hitting 3-point shots, especially very difficult ones. He finished with 33 points but the main part was the 9 three-pointers, setting a new record for a game in the NBA Finals, bashing Ray Allen’s previous record. Curry is only 15 three-pointers away from becoming the all-time leader in postseason threes. Another record owned by Allen, who could be usurped by the end of this postseason, especially if the Cavaliers manage to drag this one beyond 4 games.
Curry was criticized for his inconsistent performances in the previous 3 appearances in the finals. In 2015, Andre Iguodala, perhaps for his role in the defending of LeBron James, won the Finals MVP. A year later the Warriors crumbled under the pressure and James was the one who picked up the award. While Curry played well in the 2017 finals, he was in Durant’s shadow, who completed his set of MVP-Finals MVP and NBA championship.
This year? It’s not completed yet. The Cavaliers were one play away from winning in game 1, and Curry was the difference between a few big runs for the Cavs and momentum staying on Golden State’s side, but this feels like the Warriors series. This feels like Curry’s series, and his first Finals MVP.