Stephen Curry scored 41 points and Draymond Green put up triple double numbers on the way to dismantling the Pelicans in New Orleans 123-108 in a first-ever NBA Special Edition broadcast: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes.
While many have dubbed the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson as the future of the NBA, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green did not seem yet ready to pass him the torch.
With eight games left in the season and little to no wiggle room, every night the Dubs take the court feels like a must-win game. The margin of error has been slight for weeks now, yet the Warriors have been unable to reach that elite level familiar of past years that they have been promising was coming for most of this season.
Well, it was there last night in all aspects, evident in most every facet.
The Warriors came out at a blistering pace, jumping the Pelicans on their floor in New Orleans in a game the home team could even less afford to lose. Taking advantage of their opponent’s sloppy play, Golden State rushed to a 12-1 lead, with Draymond Green showing his immense upside early on and consistently throughout his performance.
But it was Stephen Curry who was the biggest difference maker in the first, knocking down two big threes on his way to 17 points in the quarter, pushing the lead to 39-21.
Steph was running back before the shot dropped 🤯 pic.twitter.com/gLKkPUedAt— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 4, 2021
While credit is certainly due the Warriors for the way they came out and attacked their opponent, they were perhaps a little lucky as well, with the Pelicans missing point-blank layups and overthrowing alley-oops throughout the entirety of the contest.
The Warriors went into the locker room at halftime up 12, before Curry again got to work in the third quarter, crossing up Drew Bledsoe and hitting a three as his defender slipped behind him.
Stephen— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 4, 2021
OH MY GOODNESS pic.twitter.com/GdfRIBJ0Gw
Steph had 36 points at the end of the third and finished with 41 on the night on 14-of-26 shooting and 8-of-18 from three.
Juan Toscano-Anderson, who himself notched 14 points on 6-of-8 from the field in 33 minutes, thanked Curry in his postgame Zoom conference and referred to him as a magnet, in reference to the way Steph draws defenders away from his teammates, making it easier for them to score. In many ways, Curry is also able to repel defenders much in the way opposite magnets are forced apart.
Despite another god-like outing from Curry to add to his 2021 MVP resume, it was Draymond’s performance that was enough to crown him Marvel’s first-ever #ArenaOfHeroes Champion.
“I’m excited as hell,” Draymond said to reporters about winning the award. “For me to be the hero of the game, that’s pretty cool. I’m not one to go all in on individual awards or accolades, and obviously this isn’t some crazy accolade, but just for me to have three children, and the first marvel game, and to win hero of the game, that’s pretty cool.”
Monday’s night’s game was the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation and the latest development in Marvel and ESPN’s storied history of integrating sports content and iconic Marvel story elements and characters, with custom graphics, 3D virtual characters, and animation packages.
Draymond Green has always been the type of player that elicits strong opinions from both sides; you either love him or you hate him. Some see his value, while others are too distracted by his antics or too distanced from the sport to begin to grasp his worth.
However, what Dray brings to the Warriors, the NBA, and the game of basketball was on full display last night, and it would be hard for even his biggest haters to find many faults in what he left out on the court.
While he is always a facilitator on offense, he threaded needle after needle, anticipating defenders, and scoring convincingly when needed. Despite continuing to quarterback the defense as it’s anchor from behind, he was extremely strong in his own defensive responsibilities, which loomed a monster task with once-in-a-generation-athlete Zion Williamson taking it hard at him every time he got the rock.
“Draymond took the matchup personally,” Curry said about his teammate after the game. “That’s what he does on the defensive end. [And he] contributed across the board from a playmaking perspective.”
Steve Kerr told reporters the team brought a different focus to the game, and that was the difference maker on the night. Many will wonder where that focus has been or why it has been so elusive lately. The whole team played well on the night. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 26 points in 38 minutes, but most importantly took over in the fourth quarter and maintained the Warrior lead, allowing Curry and Draymond extended rest.
The Warriors will hope to replicate that same focus Tuesday night, as Zion Williamson gets his chance at revenge in the second half of their back to back series in New Orleans at 5 p.m. PT.
Top Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images