Steph Curry 'Greatest 6th Man Ever' in NBA Playoffs as Warriors Own Nuggets in Game 2

Adam WellsApril 19, 2022

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots against Denver Nuggets guard Bones Hyland, bottom, and forward Will Barton (5) during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in San Francisco, Monday, April 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Stephen Curry's foot injury late in the regular season has forced Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to tinker with his lineup for the first two games of the postseason. 

So far, the results have been very encouraging for the Warriors. Curry came off the bench Monday night and dropped 34 points in 23 minutes during Golden State's 126-106 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. 

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters after the game that Curry is the "greatest sixth man ever in the playoffs."

Whether Malone was being tongue in cheek or not, it's hard to argue with that assessment. 

Golden State Warriors @warriors

The only player in the shot clock era to score 30+ points in 23 minutes or less of play during a Playoff game:<br><br>Stephen Curry <a href="https://t.co/8l1im5K2i1">pic.twitter.com/8l1im5K2i1</a>

StatMuse @statmuse

Steph Curry off the bench:<br><br>34 PTS<br>12-17 FG<br>5-10 3P<br>in 23 MINS<br><br>That’s the most points in a playoff game in 23 minutes or fewer since 1975 (regardless of starting or not). <a href="https://t.co/8bLtzgdRda">pic.twitter.com/8bLtzgdRda</a>

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Last night was the first time Stephen Curry scored 30 points in fewer than 25 minutes.<br><br>Regular season or playoffs. <a href="https://t.co/JiaGnzv8z0">pic.twitter.com/JiaGnzv8z0</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

STEPH CURRY 4-POINT PLAY 😱 <a href="https://t.co/7iKF4ujpH9">pic.twitter.com/7iKF4ujpH9</a>

NBA.com/Stats @nbastats

Steph Curry's shot chart from Game 2<br><br>34 PTS (12/17 FGM | 70.6 FG%) <a href="https://t.co/7PsVq163eB">pic.twitter.com/7PsVq163eB</a>

There was some uncertainty about Curry's availability for the series leading up to the start of the playoffs. He missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a sprained ligament in his left foot.

Kerr told 95.7 The Game (h/t Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area) last week that Curry would go through a scrimmage on Thursday—two days before Game 1—before determining if he would play. 

ESPN's Malika Andrews reported prior to Game 1 that Curry made the decision to come off the bench to play in "targeted bursts to close quarters."

After scoring 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting in Game 1, Curry looked pretty close to his old self on Monday night. He led all players with a plus-32 rating in his 23 minutes, and the rest of the Warriors were also able to take advantage of the scoring punch provided by the two-time NBA MVP. 

Joe Viray @JoeVirayNBA

The still-as-of-this-moment nameless 5-man lineup of Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green:<br><br>- 11 minutes<br>- plus-29<br>- 204.3 ORTG<br>- 75.0 DRTG<br>- 129.3 Net Rating

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

The Warriors put up 70 points in LESS THAN 20 MINUTES 😳<br><br>(h/t <a href="https://twitter.com/ElGee35?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ElGee35</a>) <a href="https://t.co/CPAVq8Ddqg">pic.twitter.com/CPAVq8Ddqg</a>

The Warriors were always going to have a decided advantage in this series. Nikola Jokic is one of three finalists for the MVP award, but the Nuggets not having Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. in the playoffs leaves them without the high-ceiling star power needed to keep pace with a team like Golden State. 

If Curry's injury had lingered, it might have left the door open for Denver to steal at least one of the two games at the Chase Center. 

The Warriors still have work to do to advance, but the Game 2 performance from Curry suggests they have the potential to beat anyone in these playoffs.