In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, between the Bulls and Jazz, Michael Jordan, battling the flu, had a game for the ages.
Jordan scored 38 points and the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88 to take a 3-2 series lead; Jordan would go on to win the fifth of his six NBA titles.
The game would later be known as “The Flu Game”
Fast forward 25 years to Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Celtics at TD Garden Friday night. The Celtics had an opportunity to take complete control of the series, but Steph Curry, battling a foot injury he suffered in Game 3, had a game for the ages. Curry had 24 of his 43 points in the second half, including seven threes, 10 rebounds, and four assists as the Warriors defeated the Celtics 107-97 in “The Foot Game.”(our name for it)
The series is tied 2-2, and Game 5 is Monday night at Chase Center.
Boston led 94-92 with under five minutes left in the fourth, but the Warriors went on a 15-3 run to close it out, and Curry would score 10 of those 15 points
According to StatMuse, Curry joins Jerry West and Magic Johnson as the only point guards to record a 40-point/10 rebounds Finals game.
In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, at age 34, he is the second-oldest player in NBA Finals history to record a 40-10 game behind only LeBron James(35), who did it in 2020.
Furthermore, the 24-second half points were the most for Curry in an NBA Finals game.
“Yeah, I think he was really laboring out there,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said playfully after the win. “He really struggled. No, never even looked like it was a factor, so…
“Just stunning. The physicality out there is, you know, pretty dramatic. I mean, Boston’s got obviously, best defense in the league. Huge and powerful at every position, and for Steph to take that — that kind of pressure all game long and still be able to defend at the other end when they are coming at him shows you, I think this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career, and it’s allowing him to do what he’s doing.”
Klay Thompson, who scored 18 points, was impressed by Curry’s heart.
“I think I have seen him show that much emotion, and the heart on that man is incredible,” Thompson said. “You know, the things he does we kind of take for granted from time to time but to go out there and put us on his back, I mean, we got to help him out on Monday. Wow, just showed why he is — shocking he wasn’t a First Team All-NBA guy, but whatever, next year.”
According to Thompson, this was Curry’s best performance in an NBA Finals Game.
“I think probably No. 1. I mean, this was nearly a must-win game, and to go out there and shoot as efficiently as he did, and grab 10 rebounds, and they were attacking him on defense,” he said. “I mean, his conditioning is second-to-none in this league. Steph played incredible.”
Draymond Green, who struggled again in Game 4 as he had two points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, says Curry showed why he’s an all-time great.
“Incredible,” Green said. “Put us on his back. Willed us to win. Much-needed win. Game we had to have. Came out and showed why he’s one of the best players to ever play this game, you know, and why, you know, this organization has been able to ride him to so much success. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Curry gave credit to the medical staff.
Great rehab, medical staff hooking me up the last two days, getting me right, he said. I think, for the most part, I didn’t think about it. Like I don’t know how to explain the pain. It’s more so just when you’re out there, you don’t compensate, or you don’t — it doesn’t take up too much mental space in terms of feeling like I can do whatever I want to out on the court. So hopefully, that continues with these next two days off, and get ready for Game 5.”
More importantly, the Warriors got home-court advantage back.
“It means everything knowing the sense of urgency we had to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, get home-court advantage back and try to create some momentum our way,” Curry said.
These teams have alternated wins in this series. Plus, Boston has not lost two games in a row in these playoffs, so expect them to come out with a big effort Monday night.