Eight years ago, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson formed arguably the greatest shooting duo in the history of the NBA.
Curry and Thompson were drafted two years apart and have become the face of the Golden State Warriors. Since 2015, they’ve done nothing but help their team become one of the best in the association and reach the NBA Finals every year.
Fast forward to 2019, the Warriors are in a 2-1 hole heading into Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. There is a lot of doubt wthis team can win it all again despite being two-time defending champions.
Critics everywhere are doubting Golden State. No Kevin Durant. No Kevon Looney. Andre Igoudala and DeMarcus Cousins are banged up and now so is Thompson. People are saying it’s a wrap and the Golden State dynasty might be coming to an end. What answer do the Warriors have against this Toronto team?
I can name two. Steph and Klay, also known as, the Splash Brothers.
Of course, these two are well known and their play has been documented over the years. We’ve seen them go on ridiculous stretches of constant 3-pointers. We’ve seen them break each other’s records for most triples in a game (Klay currently sits in front). We’ve seen them score in bunches and heave full-court shots. And yes, we’ve seen them win a championship.
It seems so long ago now five NBA Finals later, but there was a time when Curry and Thompson didn’t have Durant or Cousins. They led the Warriors to back-to-back Finals trips on their own, secured their first championship in this decade and won a record 73 games the following season.
But the back court has never faced more adversity then they have now. The chance to win a fourth ring in five years and to three-peat as champions all without back-to-back Finals MVP Durant has added intensified pressure. Even before the Durant days, they had Harrison Barnes, a deeper bench and they were healthy. They’ve never been this depleted.
With so much scrutiny before on whether this dynasty should be considered top-tier because of additions like Durant, coming up short could put a dent in the public’s perception of how good they’ve really been the past couple of years.
That’s why this could be the duo’s greatest moment yet.
The narrative has switched. Golden State is an underdog for the first time in a while and everyone’s lost belief in the Warriors. It’s hard to imagine that this run could get any better, but Leonard is now being considered one of the best in the world, Toronto’s roster is deeper than the Warriors and there is the entire country of Canada rooting for them, not to mention most of the United States on their side as well.
But fresh off his 47 points, Curry alone kept the banged-up Warriors in the game through the entirety of it. Thompson plans to return for Game 4 after missing his first ever playoff game. His injury shouldn’t affect him too much as Thompson averaged 34 minutes after suffering an injury in last year’s Finals.
Clearly, they missed his offensive firepower and his ability defensively as Toronto had their best game of the series in his absence. He had a team-high 25 points before leaving the game.
The duo of Curry and Thompson might not only carry the Warriors past the Raptors, but they might even solidify their dominance on the league. With Durant possibly leaving next season this team could roll out the same lineup they’ve deployed during the Finals.
Yes, for awhile now it’s been an “us against the world” type feeling for Golden State but none greater than this. But in this day and age of social media, recency bias plays a pivotal role in people’s opinions. For the past couple of seasons, the basketball community has hated the Warriors because they stacked an already great team with one of the best player’s in the world.
But that’s just it. Before Durant, this team was already the best team headed by Curry and Thompson. They were wrecking teams before the arrivals of bigger names. So why is it Durant goes down and it’s so easy to write off this Warriors’ team? Sure, Curry can’t accomplish this alone, as Thompson will need to be a major contributor, but this is still one of the best teams in the world with two top-15 players in the game.
While this win could give them a fourth ring, could a comeback against the Raptors led by the Splash Brothers be a look at the start of something greater? Maybe even be the start towards a run as the best team ever?
It’s possible. But it starts with Curry and Thompson. If they take over this series and pull out the “upset” the questions of “Was that their best Finals victory ever?” and “When will this run end?” will be looming.
If you thought the Warriors couldn’t get any better, think again. Maybe next time you won’t doubt them.