Stephen Curry performed below his established standards in a pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday. The 34-year-old superstar scored just 16 points and shockingly failed to make a single three-pointer, snapping his NBA-record streak of 132 postseason games in which he had hit at least one from beyond the arc. But the Golden State Warriors didn't need him to play the role of hero at Chase Center -- they still outlasted the Boston Celtics, 104-94.
And now, Curry is just one Finals win away from being tied with LeBron James and 14 others as a four-time league champion. If the Warriors are victorious on Thursday at TD Garden, Curry will likely receive NBA Finals MVP honors for the first time in his career, as he's averaged 30.6 points, 4.6 assists, 5.8 rebounds through five games against Boston. And, in spite of his unusual Game 5, he's made 80-plus threes in a single postseason for the fourth time in his career.
"The highest he can move is eighth [all-time]. We've got a guy on our station saying he's better Russell, Wilt, and Larry Bird. He's not there," SiriusXM NBA Radio host Justin Termine told The Zach Gelb Show on Wednesday. "There's seven guys that he can't touch. No matter what he does, it's Jordan, Magic, and LeBron. He can't get to Russell, Wilt, and Kareem as the centers.
"But he can get as high as No. 8. And when we're talking No. 8, we're talking guys like Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe, Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kevin Durant. He's right in that realm... I've been one of a few who's said Steph is the most important best player on this Golden State team, and even when they had Durant... It's easily their most important [title, if won]."
Golden State, which earned the West's third seed with a 53-29 record, will play Game 6 against Boston on Thursday night, with tip-off slated for 9 ET. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Warriors currently have a 63-percent chance to win their fourth title since 2015. If the Celtics hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy, it'll be their league-record 18th in franchise history.
The entire NBA conversation between Termine and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.