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2017 NBA Playoffs

Warriors’ Steph Curry had the two biggest shots in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals

A late game-tying 3-pointer and floater highlighted a clutch performance

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals belonged to none other than Stephen Curry, his performance reminiscent of the magical outings he spoiled us with throughout his back-to-back MVP seasons in 2015 and 2016.

The Golden State Warriors trailed by as many as 25 points but came back to win 113-111 after San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Chef Curry was at his finest with 40 points (14-of-26 from the floor and 7-of-16 from 3-point range), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers and 0 fouls in 39 minutes.

Curry hit his team’s first bucket of the game and went on cruise control from there. He absolutely abused his primary defender, Patty Mills, all afternoon long, coming off every type of screen imaginable to drain 3s from around the arc. In the second quarter, he channeled his court awareness into his trademark stroke after hitting two free throws, then stealing the ball off the San Antonio inbounds pass and hitting a deep ball for a five-point swing. In the third quarter alone, he dropped a monstrous 19 points.

Yet none of Curry’s shots in Game 1 were as timely and well-executed as his final two of the game, which helped seal the massive comeback for the Warriors. Here’s a breakdown of both shots:

Game-tying 3-pointer with 1:48 to play

Shoutout to the Warriors’ Twitter account for posting a video of Curry’s 3-pointer to tie the game at 106 with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter with the caption “If at first you don’t succeed” — the opening line of the hook to Aaliyah’s 2000 hit “Try Again.” The next line of the chorus? “Then dust yourself off and try again.” That’s exactly what Curry did on this play.

At the beginning of the sequence, which this video doesn’t show, Curry missed a 3-pointer from the right wing but gathered his own rebound and kicked it to Kevin Durant for a 3 from the opposite wing. Curry fell to the hardwood at the top of the key after the pass; yet when Durant missed, Curry quickly rose from the floor and found his way back to the ball that Shaun Livingston tipped out to a spot near Curry’s first attempt. The second go-round — bottoms.

The dagger floater

With Golden State clinging to a one-point lead with less than 20 seconds left in the game, Curry found the ball in his hands yet again. Livingston set a screen (to be honest, it looked like an illegal moving screen, but, oh well, the ref didn’t call it) on his defender, Danny Green, which forced Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge to pick up Curry on the switch. The Chef took advantage, using his quickness and handle to employ a hesitation move that gave him just enough space to get into the lane and throw up a floater. The shot hit the back iron of the rim, but because it was just that type of afternoon for Curry, the ball went through the net to give the Warriors a 113-110 lead in the game’s final 9.5 seconds.

After Game 1, there was really only one word that could describe the Stephen Curry who showed up to put up a 4o-piece, capped off by two much-needed shots: CLUTCH.

Aaron Dodson is an associate editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson, formerly of the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, he was one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.