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'Just Steph being Steph'

With one bubble-bursting shot, Curry finished the Grizzlies -- and issued a serious warning to the Warriors' next playoff opponent

POSTED: May 16, 2015 5:56 PM ET

By Shaun Powell

BY Shaun Powell


Warriors vs. Grizzlies Game 6

Stephen Curry scored 32 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out ten assists to lead the Warriors to the Game 6 victory over the Grizzlies, 108-95.

— The Western Conference finals won't begin until Tuesday but here's a tip for either the Rockets and Clippers: Might want to stick a hand in Steph Curry's face, like, right now. From wherever you are and wherever he is.

We don't know who'll have the wonderful task of checking the league MVP. Well, they'd better be bringing long arms to the next round, and maybe a prayer or two. Or else they risk getting chewed up worse than that mouthpiece hanging from Curry's jaw that takes a beating every game.

Curry is that flammable right now, a shooter who refuses to pass up a shot, be it from two feet or, ahem, 62 feet. There have been plenty of bubble-bursting shots in playoff history and while Jerry West's 60-foot runner in the 1970 NBA Finals is easily the Hindenberg of them all, was Curry's three-quarters-length heave Friday one of the loudest pops heard since?

The noise is still banging in the eardrums of the Grizzlies, who were simply stunned by the sequence in the final seconds of the third quarter, just when they were mounting a comeback to prevent elimination. The FedEx Forum crowd was buzzing and begging the Grizzlies to seize control of Game 6 for the first time all night. Jeff Green rushed downcourt attempting to cut the Golden State lead to three when he was blocked. Curry scooped the loose ball and threw a chest-shot in the opposite direction ... from near his own three-point stripe ... and the ball didn't even have the decency to bank off the glass or wiggle inside the rim first. It was true. Splash. Damn. For a city steeped in music, Curry just played a lullaby and put all of Memphis to sleep. The arena became that hushed.

"In mid-air," said coach Steve Kerr, "I said, 'I think it's going in.'"

Yes, after the season he had, and the playoffs he's having, we're all conditioned to feel that way about Curry now, that when he misses a jumper, from wherever, it's a head-scratcher. He's the rare player who never loses confidence, who won't skip a shot because he clanked one or two. That makes him dangerous and drives the defense crazy. And every time he touched the ball after that 62-footer, the crowd groaned before he even flicked his wrist. They knew. You knew.

"Just Steph being Steph," said Harrison Barnes, unfazed, wondering what the fuss is all about.

"Steph does what Steph does," said David Lee, almost yawning when he said that.

Warriors Advancing To Conference Finals

Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green address the media following a series-clinching game 6 win over Memphis.

When your teammates speak in a matter-of-fact tone while discussing an amazing shot, it's really the ultimate compliment. Had almost anyone else hit that shot, there's be plenty of gushing and did-you-see-that. Curry hits it and it's like, been-there-and-done-that.

Maybe because, at this point, they've witnessed it all from Curry. Even from 60 feet.

"It does not surprise me at all because I've seen him in practice, starting at the other baseline and he slings away, and he's made a few this year," said Draymond Green.

Curry said: "We practice those shots every day. And that's not a lie. While we're warming up the ball is flying everywhere."

Curry made 25 from deep in this series and the Grizzlies made 24. Curry made eight (out of 13) 3-pointers in Game 6, the Grizzlies four. He was a one-man 3-point demolition crew, none more crushing than from 62 feet. The Grizzlies collectively caved in the fourth quarter after Curry's groin-kick and their season was done. Meanwhile, Curry's legend and the Warriors move on, to a place where the franchise hasn't been in 39 years, four wins from the NBA Finals, bringing the requisite superstar necessary to win a title.

He loves the big moments. He loves the playoffs. He loves being depended on to take and make big shots. He's the MVP for a reason.

– Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry

In these playoffs Curry became the fastest player to reach 100 3-pointers in playoff history, needing seven fewer games than Ray Allen, the previous record holder. In Game 5 against the Grizzlies, Curry went 6-for-13 on threes and 0-for-3 on twos.

"He loves the big moments," said Kerr. "He loves the playoffs. He loves being depended on to take and make big shots. He's the MVP for a reason."

The NBA playoffs have been deprived of some great players and therefore great moments mainly because of injuries. Kevin Durant never got the chance to make it, done in by a foot injury. Kevin Love pulled up lame shortly after the playoffs began, and other sufferers followed: John Wall, Pau Gasol, etc.

At least the basketball Gods have spared Curry and allowed him this special run and a chance to go deeper. We always lose when great players see their season end in April or early May. To watch them perform in tense moments, and succeed or fail in the clutch, is the essence of postseason basketball. That's what we're getting with LeBron James in the East and now, a newcomer to this sort of thing, Curry in the West.

Grizzlies on End Of Season

David Joerger, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol address the media following a game 6 loss to the Warriors.

"He's one of those special guys," said Tony Allen, whose night was cut short because of a bad hamstring. "And that shot was one of those special moments. Those players make those kind of shots."

Those shots by Curry are all coming so fast and unique that it's all a blue right now, each one with a higher degree of difficulty and wow factor than the next. You could make a Curry mixtape off a week's worth of games, where other players would need a season's worth.

And where does the 62-footer rank among them? Curry said he couldn't begin to put them in order, although he did offer this: The shot wasn't even the best he's ever seen.

As a boy he watched Alonzo Mourning sink a jumper from the top of the key to help the original Charlotte Hornets beat the Celtics for the franchise's first big playoff victory. Mourning fell to the floor and was immediately smothered by Hornets.

"My pops got an assist on that play," said Curry, mentioning his father Dell. "So I'm a little biased. Also, that was a game-winner. You can't put my shot up with a game-winner."

Curry didn't beat the Grizzlies on that shot, not really. There was still another quarter to play, but that was just a formality. That shot will serve as the symbol of the Warriors' run to the Western Conference finals, where additional shots from Curry surely await. The Rockets and Clippers, whomever gets dibs on guarding a shooter with no limits, have been warned.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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