Steph Curry's Heroics Fueling Warriors' Dominance in Western Conference Finals

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2015

Troy Taormina/USA Today

Stephen Curry set an NBA postseason record by knocking down his 59th three of the playoffs with just under 4:30 remaining in the second quarter, and that historic achievement was somehow an afterthought by the time the Golden State Warriors wrapped up a 115-80 Game 3 win over the Houston Rockets

En route to trouncing the Rockets and taking a 3-0 series lead, the Warriors received 40 points (12-of-19 shooting, 7-of-9 from three), seven assists and five rebounds from the league MVP. 

Curry's most prolific acts came from well beyond the arc, but it was the mind-numbing efficiency with which he scored that made his effort so jaw-dropping, according to ESPN Stats & Info: 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan (May 31, 1993 vs NYK) are only players in conf finals history to make 5 3s, score 40 pts, shoot 55% from field

His display was just the third of its kind since the start of the decade, too. Jason Richardson and Curry are the only players who have scored at least 40 points and canned seven threes in a playoff game since 2010, and Curry's now accomplished that feat twice this postseason.  

According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, the absurdity of Curry's effort was amplified by its frightening consistency: 

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

Stephen Curry has hit five or more three-pointers in five consecutive playoffs games. No other player in NBA history has done that.

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At this point, descriptors of his excellence are hard to conjure up. That's why Warriors head coach Steve Kerr kept things concise, according to Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson: 

Marcus Thompson @ThompsonScribe

Steve Kerr: "Steph was Steph."

It's hard to argue with that characterization for a guy averaging 35.7 points and six dimes on 61.3 percent shooting from the field and 58.1 percent shooting from three in the Western Conference Finals.

It's also hard to find a legal way to stop Curry, who regularly appears to summon his powers from a wormhole in the space-time continuum that only he has access to. 

Shooting 63.2 percent from the field in Game 3 is one thing, but drilling all three of his left corner threes amplified the scope of his greatness. 

Synergy Sports explains: 

Synergy Basketball @SynergySST

Stephen Curry has made 91% of the 3-pointers he's attempted from the left corner this postseason.

And when Curry decided to torment the Rockets at the rim, he did so with a floater so precise it looked like he was gauging angles off the glass with a protractor. 

The inherent elegance of the Baby-Faced Assassin's game makes it aesthetically dissimilar from every other skill set the league has to offer, but it's the stone-cold demeanor he packs beneath his seemingly friendly exterior that creates such a compelling duality. 

Everything about Curry—and the Warriors for that matter—is multi-dimensional. There's nothing static, nothing stagnant and nothing easy to pinpoint. 

Deadspin's Kevin Draper broke it down: 

They won plenty of games because of their incredible ball movement. They won plenty of games because Stephen Curry went bananas. The Warriors won plenty of games this season because of their hyper-intelligent defense. 

But not all of those things need to happen for the Warriors to win. They win many games when only one of them does, and most games when two of them do. And when all three are present on the same night? My god, it is a sight to behold.

Even when Curry sat back and watched his teammates work, the Warriors were lights-out. He scored three points in the first quarter, and Golden State still managed to lead by 12 at the conclusion of the opening frame. 

He then proceeded to go toe-to-toe with Dwight Howard (14 points, 14 rebounds) on the glass during a second quarter that saw the Warriors extend their lead to 25: 

On an evening when Curry recorded his third-career 40-plus-point outing in the playoffs, according to GSWStats, Golden State was dominant from top to bottom. 

The Warriors out-rebounded Houston, 60-39, and trumped the Rockets, 58-42 in the paint as five players finished in double-figures and an equal number finished with a plus/minus rating better than plus-20.

Discipline with the ball early on also helped set the tone for a second half that was distilled down to the Warriors' version of cruise control.  

NBA.com/Stats laid out the disparity in first-half production between the two teams: 

NBA.com/Stats @nbastats

The @warriors assisted on 15 of their 23 field goals (65%) and committed just 1 turnover in that 1st half (5asts, 5 TOs for HOU)

"This is a great lesson for our team: If we defend like crazy and take care of the ball, we’re going to be in good shape," Kerr told reporters, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver 

Good shape doesn't even begin to describe it.

According to WhoWins.com, no team in NBA history has blown a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-seven format. That makes the Warriors virtual locks to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. And if they're able to wrap things up Monday at Toyota Center, they'll be afforded nine days off before the main event gets underway June 4. 

There's a cliche about unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects, but at this point it feels like the Warriors are both parts of that equation rolled up into one destructive machine. 

They've uncovered multiple pathways to dominance, and a perfect storm formed Saturday night proving the team can amplify Curry's greatness, just as the MVP's brilliance has lifted the franchise to an entirely new level.  

All stats are current as of May 24 and courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless noted otherwise. 

Alec Nathan covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AlecBNathan

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