When the playoffs roll around, NBA fans will be crossing their fingers for a Western Conference Finals showdown between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder.
In a high-octane matchup that resembled the basketball version of Mad Max: Fury Road, the Warriors and Thunder traded buckets at ridiculous rates and in the most outrageous of fashions Saturday before the Warriors secured a 121-118 overtime win at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Stephen Curry's game-winning three-pointer from steps inside the half-court line with 0.6 seconds remaining.
After rolling his ankle and briefly exiting the game in the early stages of the third quarter, Curry returned and scorched the Thunder's home floor to the tune of 46 points on 14-of-24 shooting from the field while tying the NBA record with 12 made threes on 16 attempts.
In the process of lighting up Oklahoma City's defense from beyond the arc, Curry broke his own single-season record with his 287th three-point field goal this season—finishing with 288—which elicited a marvelous response from Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James:
@StephenCurry30 needs to stop it man!! He's ridiculous man! Never before seen someone like him in the history of ball!— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 28, 2016
According to GSWStats on Twitter, Curry also became the first player in NBA history to drill at least 10 threes in consecutive games.
Dirk Nowitzki, your thoughts?
Back to back game with 10 three's??!?????! Video game....— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) February 28, 2016
While it briefly looked as though the Thunder's star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would carry Oklahoma City to a defining win over the defending champions, some costly mistakes propelled the Warriors into the win column.
The Thunder led by four points with 14 seconds remaining in regulation, but a lazy pass by Durant following a Klay Thompson layup resulted in the Warriors regaining possession and Andre Iguodala getting fouled while tossing up a would-be game-tying field-goal attempt.
In a flashback to the first round of the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Iguodala proceeded to knock down both free throws in cool, calm and collected fashion to send things to overtime tied at 103-103.
Before fouling out early in overtime, Durant went wild with 37 points on 13-of-26 shooting, including 7-of-11 from three. Not only did Durant tie his career high with seven conversions from beyond the arc, but he also reached the 20-point mark in his 44th straight game.
Westbrook added 26 points and 13 assists, but his last-gasp game-tying three-point attempt following Curry's mind-blowing game-winner clanged off the front of the rim.
But as NBA.com's David Aldridge reinforced, Saturday was all about Curry, who wiped away memories of an underwhelming first half to steal the show:
Trump and Clinton just conceded to Steph Curry.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 28, 2016
The Warriors entered the halftime locker room trailing by 11 points, at which point a scoreless Draymond Green (who finished with two points and zero made field goals) reportedly went on a "profanity-laced tirade," according to ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters, who relayed the following update on the ABC broadcast:
I did not hear what precipitated it, but he was yelling so loudly that I could hear everything that he was saying. I think you heard a little bit of it as well, Mike [Breen]. I think that it was Draymond Green. The indications that I've gotten from other players is that it was Draymond Green.
He was yelling and screaming, 'I am not a robot. I know I can play. You have me messed up right now. If you don't want me to shoot, I won't shoot the rest of the game.' At one point, people were trying to get him to sit down, from what I could hear, and he was daring people, threatening people, 'Come sit me down.'
For a team that's rarely battled adversity over the past season-and-a-half, Saturday night was a stunning reminder of how resilient the Warriors are.
Curry is the most mind-numbingly brilliant scorer in the league, and he assumed the form of an MVP, carrying the Warriors on his back as all other Golden State players combined to hit two threes.
And now that a fire has seemingly been lit under the defending champions, the rest of the NBA is on notice.
The Thunder put forth a valiant effort and had several opportunities to close out the game, but they learned the hard way what happens if you don't shut the door in emphatic fashion.
Consider the Warriors in a class of their own.
In the post-game locker room, Curry reflected on his historic night, per the NBA's official Twitter account:
"It’s hard to put into words what Steph did," Thompson said, per the San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons. "It’s the most amazing thing I’ve probably ever seen."
NBA.com/Stats provided a look at Curry's record-setting shot chart to this point in the season:
Asked to elaborate on Curry's performance, Westbrook didn't offer much in the way of in-depth analysis, according to ESPN.com's Royce Young:
Westbrook on Curry: "He made some tough shots." pic.twitter.com/xQ2prnHvnd— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 28, 2016
Meanwhile, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan put the gut-punch Curry delivered in perspective based on his previous experiences, via Young:
Donovan asked if he's ever been involved in a game like this: "I was on the bench when Duke played Kentucky..."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 28, 2016
Young also reported that Durant indicated he planned on putting the loss behind him relatively quickly:
Kevin Durant on moving on from this one: "Yeah I'll go home and enjoy me a nice meal and a glass of wine and I'll be straight."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 28, 2016
Back in the Warriors locker room, head coach Steve Kerr downplayed Green's halftime tirade, per ESPN.com's Ethan Strauss:
Kerr said Draymond's rant was unusual but wouldn't give many other specifics— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) February 28, 2016
However, Kerr's tone regarding Curry's explosion was far more exuberant.
"What’s the expression? ‘From the ridiculous to the sublime.' That’s where we are at this point," Kerr said, per Simmons.
"Everybody in this locker room, we've seen him practice from that range every day," Thompson said of the game-winner, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "He's got the greatest range I've ever seen. He makes it look so effortless."