The streak began just over nine years ago. A trio of kids – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – went to Denver on a cool April night in 2013 and helped Golden State win Game 2 of a Western Conference first-round series.
And then Curry said something prophetic.
“We’re a resilient team,” Curry proclaimed that night.
He had no idea how right he was.
The Warriors have made 27 playoffs in those nine seasons. They won a road game in all of them, a streak without comparison in NBA history. And it’s safe to say that none of those road wins for Golden State in the Curry-Thompson-Green era was more significant than the last, a 107-97 victory over Boston in Game 4 of the Finals. the NBA on Friday night.
Series tied, 2-2. Advantage of home ground recovered. Game 5 takes place Monday in San Francisco, the start of a best-of-three to decide the NBA title. And if the Warriors didn’t extend that streak on the road, the story would be vastly different right now. The Celtics would be on the verge of the title. The Warriors would be right on the brink.
“What a gut-wrenching victory,” Thompson said.
Indeed, it was probably more than any other road win in this Warriors run.
There have been greater moments: The Warriors have three championships in this era, and yes, being presented with a gold trophy by NBA commissioner Adam Silver is the greatest moment a team can have. But of the 39 road wins the Warriors have won in this run, only one could truly match the one Golden State got on Friday in terms of significance.
It would be Game 4 of the 2015 NBA Finals. Same storyline: The Warriors were trailing that series 2-1, they were on the road facing the dreaded 3-1 deficit, but found a way that night in Cleveland to dominate the Cavaliers and even the series en route to a six-game title triumph.
After Boston’s Game 3 win, Thompson thought he was feeling those 2015 vibes again.
He may be right.
“You’ve got a bunch of guys that will be in the Hall of Fame one day: Steph, Klay, Draymond,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “These guys are the constant. They have been here together throughout this period. So not only are they gifted, but they’re incredibly competitive, and that’s what it takes to win on the road. You have to summon that kind of will and intensity and passion, and these guys have that.
Imagine, 48 hours before Game 4, the question was whether Curry could even play. He sprained his left foot late in Game 3, the same injury that ended his regular season a few games earlier. Curry said Thursday he would play, and Friday he delivered an all-time performance – 43 points, 10 rebounds, four assists.
“It was almost a game to win, and going out there and shooting as effectively as he did, and grabbing 10 rebounds and they were attacking him on defense…Steph played unbelievably,” Thompson said.
The 43 points was Curry’s second-highest total in a road playoff game. He had 44 in a game at San Antonio in 2013, a second-round affair that very few people remember and one that certainly didn’t have the stakes, the spotlight and the pressure that were present Friday night in Boston.
He was demonstrative. Yell at the crowd several times, even. Very anti-Steph. But the moment couldn’t have been greater, and Curry delivered, all those years of road wins at playoff time over enemy hardwood setting him up for that ultimate moment.
“He wouldn’t let us lose,” Green said. “That’s exactly what it boils down to. … He was going to come out with this type of fire, and he did.
And now, instead of Boston fans starting to wonder when the parade is, buckle up for another huge game on Monday. The winner of Game 5 will have a chance to claim the trophy with a victory in Game 6 on Thursday in Boston. Otherwise, next Sunday, everything is played with a Game 7 in San Francisco.
As Curry said after that first road win nine years ago, the Warriors are resilient.
It might never have been more obvious than Friday night.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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