The Golden State Warriors appeared vulnerable this season, at least to the extent that they did not lead the NBA for regular season wins and they even squandered a game in their first playoff series with Oklahoma.
In their first Western Conference semifinal game with the Houston Rockets, however, the final play of the game for all the world resembled a video highlight clip from years past.
With the game close and the outcome yet to be decided, Stephen Curry got a one-on-one matchup on the three-point line with Rockets centre Nene Hilario, who was inserted for defensive purposes.
Nene is a 16-year veteran with some grey in his beard, but his chances of successfully defending against Curry were two: slim and none.
Curry calmly got Nene on the wrong foot, and then slipped a three-pointed dagger in the heart of the Rockets to put the Warriors up by four points with only seconds remaining on the clock.
Shortly after, Nene drew his second technical foul of the game and was escorted from the court by an Oklahoma assistant.
Talk of the Warriors’ demise may be premature.
They find a way to win, even when they play below the level of which they are capable.
Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson had sub-par games.
Curry launched 10 three-point shots, but only made three of the 10, including the clincher.
Durant was having some accuracy issues, going 11 for 25 from the field, although he did contribute 12 points from 15 free throw attempts.
Thompson went 5 of 13 (38.5 %) from the field and 2 of 5 from beyond the three-point line.
An off night by the standards of those three, but the Warriors found saviours in Andre Iguodala, who only shoots sure things and went 6 of 7 from the field, and Draymond Green, who made 7 of the 9 shots he took.
It was a close 104 – 100 win for the Warriors, but after the final siren, only the “W” matters.