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Starting Five

The Starting 5: Warriors-Thunder Was The Game of the Season

February 27, 2016: Golden State Warriors Guard Stephen Curry (30) steals the ball from Oklahoma City Thunder Guard Russell Westbrook (0) at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire)

1. Behold Stephen Curry and the Warriors in their purest form — Tom Ziller, SB Nation

Last night, the Warriors pulled off one of their more improbable and thrilling comebacks of the season by beating Oklahoma City in overtime. Down late in the fourth, Steph Curry’s unbelievable shooting proved to be the difference, especially after Kevin Durant fouled out in overtime. In one night, Curry set the NBA record for threes in consecutive games, broke his own record for threes in a season, and tied the record for threes in a game with 12. Tom Ziller takes us through the roller coaster game and explains why Steph and the Warriors are gods of basketball right now, simply put.

2. Stephen Curry’s Legend Continues to Grow at Unprecedented Pace — Michael Pina, Bleacher Report

Michael Pina takes a thorough and thoughtful look at Curry’s insane game last night as well as his status as a whole in the NBA. Curry is pretty obviously the greatest shooter ever, and players from LeBron James to Rudy Gay to Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t resist chiming in last night. It’s unbelievable that Steph missed six minutes in the second half with an ankle injury last night. As Pina points out, in a different universe, Curry never returns and the Warriors get smoked. I’m glad we live in this one.

3. Kevin Durant was perfect against the Warriors until he wasn’t — Zito Madu, SB Nation

Kevin Durant was nearly flawless against Golden State, pouring in 37 points and drilling seven of his 11 three-point attempts, a percentage even Steph Curry would praise. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Durant also made a few key mistakes in the waning moments of the game that proved monumental. After draining a dagger three to put OKC up four points with the shot clock off, Durant turned the ball over and then fouled Andre Iguodala following a Klay Thompson layup. The Dubs were able to then send the game to OT, where Durant fouled out in the first minute. You basically have to be perfect to beat a locked-in Warriors team. Kevin Durant slipped at the very end last night, and it likely cost OKC a victory.

4. Shame on former NBA stars who don’t think Steph Curry is great — Christopher Dempsey, Denver Post

As is so often the case in sports, former NBA stars — particularly Oscar Robertson — were happy to chime in this week to explain why Curry and the Warriors aren’t as great as everyone says. Christopher Dempsey very correctly laments the typicalness of former NBA greats crapping on their former league; from Oscar to Charles Barkley, you can’t make these guys happy. Robertson’s complaints about NBA teams not playing real defense and coaches not understanding the game not only ring false but only serve to diminish the way today’s fans look at Robertson, a true Hall of Fame talent. The Warriors delivered the most exciting game of the year last night in response, where Steph Curry broke or tied no less than three major three-point records. The OGs need to shut up and enjoy the entertainment.

5. The Most Prolific Screeners Among Guards — Miko Honkasalo, Vantage Sports

For a long time, screens were nearly impossible to track and simply understood as an overlooked but critical aspect of basketball. In today’s world, we can quantify just about everything, so Mika Honkasalo takes a quite interesting look into which guards are doing the most effective screening. One theme among the best? Most of them are also elite shooters. Steph Curry and Kyle Korver set more off-ball screens than any other guards, helping shine light on just how chaotic their shooting can be. George Hill, another great shooter, is also active in this area as Paul George often runs the offense. More teams should utilize the actions that these squads have put to good use.

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