Stephen Curry and Co. Making Big Statement with KD in Ways We Never Expected

Kevin Ding@@KevinDingNBA Senior WriterJune 8, 2017

Jun 7, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game three of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — The masterpiece is nearing completion.

Shall we appreciate it?

Or are we going to shake our heads and mutter that it had to be good considering how naturally gifted the artists are?

Are we going to discredit it because people this talented shouldn't also be allowed to use the best materials?

Are we going to put this stunning reality out of our minds and opt to imagine that it'd be more satisfying if each artist separately created his own magnum opus, no matter that this is a team game?

After engineering a 118-113 win in Cleveland on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors are on the brink of 16-0, a perfect postseason that has never been accomplished before.

The complaints are that it has been too easy, that Kevin Durant is too good and that the whole spirit of competition that we cherish has been diminished.

Perhaps if the Warriors were staggering to the title, skating by on superior skill and not making the most of their greatness, then we could get bogged down in those arguments.

Instead, we are talking about uncharted perfection.

If we choose to write the result off as unfair, then we are misreading text that is so plain in front of us.

A 15-0 record doesn't mean this has been easy. It means this has been done right.

The Warriors have met the most mundane of challenges—working together—in glorious fashion.

And the best way to understand it is through Stephen Curry—the hero every little kid the past few years has aspired to be; first-ever unanimous NBA MVP last season; and now the guy whose legit Finals thunder (28.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game) has still been stolen by newcomer Durant.

Are we going to dwell on the point that Curry isn't as bright of a singular star with Durant on his team?

Jun 7, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game three of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit:
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Or are we going to acknowledge that Curry has taken his new reality and grown in new directions—providing the critical difference between just a winning team and this absolutely perfect team?

What a well-rounded Curry we got in Wednesday night's Game 3, when Draymond Green repeatedly lost focus and all the best Cavaliers lost ground to fatigue. Curry was hustling to collect as many rebounds as Kevin Love (13) and time after time dribbling hard up court like some generic point guard whose only role was to help the team by accelerating pace. Curry scored 26 points but also took diligent care of the ball with one turnover against six assists in a breathless game that left all other players with 29 turnovers against 40 assists.

Curry hasn't boasted about it, but he has taken immense pride in becoming more of a traditional point guard for his team this season, conducting the orchestra shrewdly while staying aggressive for periodic one-man shows. Curry's defensive improvement has wowed never-satisfied assistant coach Ron Adams, Golden State's resident defensive guru.

And as a leader, Curry has realized the lift that he instills in his teammates through his joy and positivity, and he has been more focused on giving that to his team than ever before.

A perfect postseason only happens because people who can afford to slack off instead dig even deeper for newfound contributions they can bring to the team.

This is how a great team or band or company does it, and that's why the Warriors have broken the record for most consecutive playoff victories in any of the four major pro team sports with these 15. Even if they need Game 5 back home to finish this, 16-1 would still be the best NBA playoff record ever.

When you try your best to work with whoever is around you, you will learn some things about yourself.

Curry has this season. He will measure his satisfaction from this pending championship with that in mind, and so should we all.

You can rightly say because Durant came aboard, Curry gets to do other things, Klay Thompson gets to defend Kyrie Irving more intensely and Andre Iguodala gets to save his energy to play the entire fourth quarter Wednesday.

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 07:  Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles the ball while guarded by Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the 2017 NBA Finals on June 7, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

But it goes both ways: Because the holdover Warriors have truly committed to the greater good, Durant gets the full benefit of operating in Golden State's flow.

On his go-ahead three-point shot with 45.3 seconds left, Durant definitely didn't get LeBron James' best defensive effort even though it was a simple pull-up. James was fried from all that he had to do all night and was stung after his great pass for an open Kyle Korver three-pointer had just resulted in a miss. James was actually reaching out with his right hand in search of the standard Warriors screen—Curry was indeed coming to set one—and got his left hand up late to contest Durant's shot. Then Thompson smothered Irving at the other end to hold the lead Durant's shot gave them.

Yes, even in the Warriors postgame locker room, JaVale McGee was gushing about how Durant attempted that dagger with the most confidence of any ball he shot throughout the game, and Green's gruff, deep voice could be heard celebrating Durant's nickname: "Slim Reaper!"

Yet those teammates know how many other things they're doing and have done to make Durant and their playoff record look this good. This is a team that totaled the most assists of any NBA club this season and led the league in the hustle stats of steals, deflections and loose balls recovered.

Jun 7, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots the basketball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the fourth quarter in game three of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory C
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

And therein lies the true beauty we should be grateful to find in this group's masterpiece.

Durant has allowed the other Warriors to do less.

But it's not that less has been more.

It's that less has meant a wonderful opportunity to tap into other areas individually—and that has led to the greatest playoff team in sports history accomplishing so much more.

Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.


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