• Complete coverage: 2022 NBA Finals
BOSTON – Stephen Curry spoke matter-of-factly with NBATV’s Jared Greenberg after Game 2 of the NBA Finals, calmly addressing the one individual honor eluding the guard during a Hall of Fame 13-year career.
“There’s been a lot of accomplishments in my career and that one’s not on the list,” Curry said when discussing his newly awarded Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.
Eight days later, historians can now jot down that one on Curry’s resume, too, along with a fourth title on the strength of the 34-year-old scoring a team-high 34 points Thursday in Golden State’s 103-90 triumph over Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to capture this best-of-seven series 4-2.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr called Curry’s latest accolade “his crowning achievement in what’s already been an incredible career. The whole Finals MVP thing, it’s like, are we really [doing this]? I guess his career has been so impeccable, and that’s the only thing we can actually find. So, it’s great to check that box for him. But it’s been really hard for me to think that’s actually been held against him.”
With a salty home crowd lingering at TD Garden and booing in the background, the Warriors giddily squeezed onto a black podium on the court, as NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum started the process of handing off the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
Minutes later, the time arrived for Curry to receive his latest hardware. Interestingly, the booing subsided quickly into scattered chatter, as “MVP” chants gradually broke out in pockets around TD Garden from the Warriors fans clad in yellow and blue shirts sprinkled into a sea of green that engulfed the arena. They certainly had plenty to cheer for in a Golden State team that now owns a record of 22-10 in series-clinching games since 2015 to go with a mark of 20-9 all time in Game 6 outings.
Curry reeled off 3,750 career playoff points before finally winning his first NBA Finals MVP. Only Kobe Bryant (4,381 points) churned out more production in the postseason before capturing a Finals MVP award.
Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Klay Thompson occupy the top three spots in this final edition of the 2022 Race to the Finals MVP Ladder. The Warriors point guard clung to the top spot in the Finals MVP Ladder after four of the six games in this series, while Al Horford and Jaylen Brown seized No. 1 for one contest each.
The Golden State trio, meanwhile, combined for just five points fewer (34) in the first half of Game 6 than Boston’s entire squad (39), with Wiggins leading the way defensively (3 steals) to help the Warriors pile up 11 points off 12 Celtics turnovers over the first two quarters.
For the game, Golden State rang up 23 points off 20 Boston turnovers, as Wiggins gobbled up a game-high four steals with Gary Payton III chipping in three, followed by Draymond Green (2), Thompson (2), and Curry (2). Interestingly, before the club’s Game 6 output, over the first five contests alone it had scored more points (103) off turnovers than any Finals team since 1992.
The Warriors backcourt sizzled offensively, too, scorching Boston from deep in the first half by hitting a combined 4-for-7, before Thompson cooled off in the second half to finish with 12 points.
Naturally, Curry saved the best for last, racking up 13 of his 34 points in the final frame on 4-for-6 shooting.
Then, when finally asked what it means to be a Finals MVP, Curry changed the subject.
“Forget that question,” he said. “Why you start with that question? This one hits different for sure just knowing what the last three years have meant, what it’s been like from injuries to changing of the guard in the rosters, Wiggs coming through, our young guys carrying the belief we could get back to this stage and win, even if it didn’t make sense to anybody when we said it. All that stuff matters.”
Your first NBA Finals MVP Award does, too, man.
So, enjoy it.
And now, the final Top 5 in our 2022 Race to the NBA Finals MVP Ladder:
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 31.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg
The 34-year-old strolled into this one sitting on the highest scoring average (30.6 points per game) of his career in any Finals series, only to improve upon that by finishing off the Celtics strong. Curry has poured in at least 30 points in 51 career postseason outings to become just the 11th player to accomplish that feat. The point guard has scored 30 points or more in 14 career Finals contests. This series marked Curry’s second Finals appearance in which he knocked down at least 30 3-pointers (he hit 32 in the 2016 Finals). No other player has put together just one such series since 1979-80.
2. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.2 apg
Wiggins’ rebounding numbers took a nosedive after he logged just six boards in Game 6. But the forward averaged a whopping 14.5 rebounds in Games 4 and 5. And did you know since the NBA began tracking individual turnovers (1977-78) that Wiggins was the eighth player to put together a 25-point, 10-rebound performance in a Finals contest (Game 5) without committing a single turnover? In fact, he’s the only Warrior that has pulled off that accomplishment, proving all the doubters wrong along the way. “It’s a feeling I can’t describe,” he said. “I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. Now, I’m a champion. Everyone is going to have something to say regardless. Now, when they have something to say, they have to say I’m a world champion, too.”
3. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 17.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
We expected the legend of Game 6 Klay to surface, and early on, the shooting guard delivered by pouring in a quick 12 points in the opening half before cooling down considerably over a scoreless third and fourth quarter. Over Thompson’s previous 12 Game 6 outings, he averaged 20.7 points, racking up 30 points or more in four of those contests. It wasn’t meant to be in this one. But Thompson surely wouldn’t trade his fourth championship for individual accolades, especially considering everything he’s endured suffering back-to-back season ending injuries to return to the mountaintop. “I was feeling just so high on life that I did not want to leave the stage,” Thompson said. “I just know how hard this is, and to be here for a fourth time, [I’m] so grateful for my teammates.”
4. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
NBA Finals stats: 23.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.7 apg
Boston’s most consistent contributor throughout the Finals, Brown rattled off more points (154) than any other player in the fourth quarter of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Clearly, that didn’t matter in this series. Brown started off Game 6 aggressively, hitting 3 of 5 in the first frame before finishing with a game-high 14 points at intermission. “They won and we lost,” Brown said after the game. “We did it to ourselves. We had opportunities to go up and win. I guess we’ve shown our immaturity at times, and it stings. Still a young group. Nothing to hang our heads about. Tough day for Boston.”
5. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 6.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 6.2 apg
The truth is this spot was initially reserved for Jayson Tatum. But given Tatum’s struggles for the entire series, it just wouldn’t sit right to leave the Celtics superstar in here over the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors. Green put together a couple of putrid performances in this series, took copious criticism, and continued to podcast (yeah, we’re gonna “get this podcast” after this victory) only to bounce back and make play after play in crucial moments. Green, Curry, and Thompson have now tied Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Byron Scott, and James Worthy for the third-most postseason wins by a trio (93) since 1976-77.
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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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