NBA Finals: Stephen Curry’s place in history, plus Game 6 predictions
The NBA Finals returns to Boston tonight with the Warriors poised to close out the series .. The Crossover staff weighs-in on where Golden State would rank among NBA Dynasties, Steph Curry’s place among the greatest players ever, and who will win Game 6.
If the Warriors win the title where would you rank them among NBA Dynasties?
Chris Herring: Probably second still, after the Jordan-era Bulls. However, getting back to the winner’s circle three years later without Kevin Durant or after Klay Thompson’s devastating injuries would be tremendously impressive and validate Curry in an unimpeachable manner for those who have made fun of his lack of Finals MVPs.
Robin Lundberg: There are legendary dynasties of the past like the Boston Celtics, but the Warriors would be right there when it comes to my era with another title. The run the Spurs had was remarkable, as was what Shaq and Kobe did. But to me it comes down to three: the Bulls, the Warriors and LeBron James, who was in nine out of 10 NBA Finals with three different teams, which is bananas. It’s Chicago and Golden State when it comes down to a team. This Warriors run stands out because it is a new chapter after their original title, and the KD superteam (best ever assembled imo). They would be second to the Jordan Bulls in rankings, since they had two separate three-peats.
Chris Mannix: Four titles in eight years, with a couple of other Finals appearances that were derailed for non-basketball (Draymond’s suspension, Kevin Durant’s injury) reasons? The Warriors would be right up there. The ’50s and ’60s Celtics are the gold standard of NBA dynasties, but I would put Golden State on the same level as the ’70s and ’80s Celtics and Lakers, the ’90s Bulls, and the Spurs of the early aughts. They may still have some runs, given the Warriors’ roster structure.
Michael Pina: Four titles in eight years–with two Finals losses packed into that span–is a wild accomplishment that only Russell’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls and Duncan’s Spurs can look down at. The Warriors’ ability to win in such a volatile era, with rosters constantly changing, may make their run as impressive as any of the other dynasties.
If the Warriors win the title, where would you rank Steph Curry among the greatest players of all time?
Herring: Probably at the very back end of the 10 or so best to have ever laced them up. Despite his size, Steph has aspects that are Shaq-like. He’s revolutionized the sport by setting so many screens and you can’t protect him with just one player. Because of this, he creates 4-on-3 mismatches all over the court, making it easier for his teammates and making it a much more enjoyable game than we’ve ever seen in basketball history.
Lundberg: The Warriors don’t need to win for Steph Curry to be on the very shortest list of greatest players ever. He is already one the five greatest players I have ever seen, the best point guard ever in the NBA (though sticking with Magic is more reasonable), and on my personal NBA Mount Rushmore. His ability to change the game and his consistent winning streaks and achievements have secured his place in the NBA.
Mannix: I struggle with placement but there’s no question that a championship and a Finals MVP will elevate Curry. And when you stack up his resume, individual and team, you will have a hard time finding 10 guys that are better than Curry.
Pina: He’s already one of the four or five best players I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, but factoring in everyone who’s ever picked up a ball, it’d be hard to think of 12 names before his came up. Curry’s career numbers aren’t as impressive than those of other Mount Rushmore candidates but his impact on the sport (where adjectives such as “transcendent”, “revolutionary”, and “transcendent”), coupled with his postseason success really makes him stand out. And, at 34 years old, Curry clearly has more left in the tank.
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What will it take for the Celtics to extend the series?
Herring: Continuing to move the ball while turning it over far, far less–look at the Warriors’ points off turnovers in this series if you haven’t already–and limiting Golden State’s breakout performances to Curry and virtually no one else. This has worked for Boston.
Lundberg: The Celtics need to stop with the self inflicted errors. Turnovers have allowed Warriors to move into transition and give shooters clean looks. They’ll be in good shape if Boston can limit them and Jayson Tatum can step up. These mishaps are what make them trail in the series.
Mannix: Stop. Turning. The. Ball. Over. The Celtics are the superior team. If they commit less than 12 turnovers on Thursday, they will win. If they commit 16 or more, they will lose. It’s that simple.
Pina: They need to take care of the ball and read Golden State’s defense with more clarity than they did in Games 4 and 5, hope Curry doesn’t have another out of body experience, hit open threes and free throws, clamp down on all the Warriors’ off-ball action in the half-court, finish better in the paint and hope Rob Williams III looks like he did in Game 3.
Who will win Game 6?
Herring: I think the Celtics, back on their home floor, find a way to respond and at least force a Game 7. It was impressive to beat them twice in succession. But, it would be amazing to do it three times consecutively in a series like this. Boston hasn’t lost three straight games since December.
Lundberg: I’ll go with the Celtics, reluctantly. After a disappointing playoffs, this has been a great NBA Finals. This series and its fans deserve Game 7.
Mannix: Boston. I believe the Celtics will win this series. This team seems to be able to handle real adversity the best. They were reminiscent of the Washington Generals during the first two months and the best team in NBA for the fourth. They lost 3-2 to the Bucks, and won. They dropped-kicked a chance at taking out Miami in six and then went down South Beach to beat the Heat. They just find a way. I have Boston to win Game 6. Boston to win Game 7.
Pina: The Celtics.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.