Bill Simmons on why Steph Curry is 2013 Playoffs First Round MVP and How the Warriors could beat the Spurs.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Basketball
We're probably counting down to a Grizz-Spurs western finals in 2013.
But it's still fun to dream about the Warriors beating the Spurs in round two.
Q: Is Steph Curry the MVP of the playoffs so far?
Well, he averaged 24.3 points and a league-leading 9.3 assists in Round 1. He sank 23 of 53 3-pointers. He's third in playoff efficiency rating, trailing only LeBron (27.8) and Kevin Durant (an insane 33.4), per NBA.com. According to ESPN Research, the Warriors were plus-52 when he played and minus-27 when he didn't. He's the only NBA player to dish out seven assists and make four 3s in four straight playoff games; nobody had ever done it even three straight times. And …
Wait, why the hell am I answering this with stats? You know why Steph Curry was the MVP of Round 1? Because he's the first NBA player since I Can't Even Remember When who replicated the single best thing about March Madness: when some guard just catches fire, becomes a one-man offense, starts sinking 3s like they're layups, turns on the "HEAT CHECK!" sign and makes you stand up because you're so excited … even though you're in your own living room. Even better, it was happening in Oakland — our only NBA city that makes big games feel like college games, with everyone standing for four quarters like they're 18,000 Cameron Crazies or something.
This was (and is) the perfect marriage between a player and a crowd. The Warriors fans have been getting kicked in the teeth for nearly 40 years, in every way possible. (Only 14 months ago, I wrote a long column about it.) We already knew they needed this. But basketball fans needed it, too. Curry and Durant are the only two Heat Check guys who make you think, As long as they're within 30 feet of the hoop, this is going in. You never know when they're heating up, just that when it happens your roof could be collapsing and you wouldn't leave the room. There's nothing more fun than watching a great shooter get hot. And Stephen Curry is great.
He's already on the short list with Reggie Miller and Ray Allen — the two best long-range shooters we've ever seen — but unlike those guys, he doesn't need picks to get his shots off. He can just get them himself. Which puts him on a separate Heat Check list with Pete Maravich and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Even better, he has a real sense of The Moment, especially at home, and that's something that doesn't show up with stats. His barrage of 3s that knocked Denver out of Game 4 was simply unforgettable — he brought out about 40 daggers and just started whipping them at Denver's bench like butcher's knives.
There's only one thing that's keeping him from being a superstar right now: He needs to take care of business in the last two minutes of close games. Too many turnovers, too many poor decisions. Golden State blew Game 1 and nearly blew Game 3 and Game 6 because they were so sloppy down the stretch. That's on Curry's watch, and Mark Jackson, too. The greats aren't sloppy in big moments. And by the way? You're not getting away with that crap against San Antonio. So step it up, Son of Dell.
Q: Just for fun, can you talk me into Golden State beating San Antonio without David Lee?
They'd need to steal one of the first two, then ride the Oakland crowd three times like they did in Round 1. (Conceivable.) They would need Curry to be the best player in the series. (Conceivable.) They'd need the improbable/incredible/perplexing Andrew Bogut Renaissance to continue.4(Conceivable.) They'd need Harrison Barnes to keep thriving as a small-baller in the 4-spot. (Conceivable.) And they'd need the NBA to say, "Wow, how much fun would it be to have the Warriors in the conference finals," then assign Joey Crawford to at least three of these Spurs-Warriors games. (Conceivable.)
Here's the problem: Golden State has never beaten Duncan in San Antonio. Not for 16 solid years. In games he actually played, he's 28-0 at home against the Warriors and 19-6 in Oakland. You read that correctly: 47-6. I'm a big believer in the whole "Certain Guys Just Own Certain Teams" dynamic, and for whatever reason, Tim Duncan O-W-N-S the Warriors. Throw in Golden State's happy-to-be-there vibe in those postgame locker-room celebrations last night and I'm not feeling too confident about the Dubs in Round 2. Regardless, we'll always have Round 1.