The ball hit the court just outside of the paint when Stephen Curry darted to it, beating Jayson Tatum to the rebound.
The Warriors’ 34-year-old star flew up court, zig-zagging to the basket before dumping it to Gary Payton II. Curry, never stopping, then jetted to the far corner where he got the ball back from Payton.
And then for the 3,672nd time in his NBA career, he flicked his wrist and lobbed a shot through the hoop — Curry at his Curry-est for the Warriors’ first lead in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
By the time the Warriors finished off the Celtics to win their fourth championship since 2015, Curry had demoralized and dominated the Celtics in the kind of way only one of the best to ever do it could.
Taking advantage every time the Celtics’ NBA-best defense blinked, Curry announced he had finished Boston off midway through the third quarter, pointing to his ring finger after a 29-foot three-pointer went through the rim and barely moved the net.
Golden State reclaimed its throne at the top of the NBA, winning 103-90 while becoming just the second team to clinch a title in Boston. The 1985 Lakers were the first.
While the Celtics moved the Warriors’ 22-point lead into single digits in the fourth, Curry had every answer, carving up the inside of a defense that he had spent the early parts of the game stretching to all corners of the floor.
He finished with 34 points.
For Boston, this group was unable to put its stamp on one of the NBA’s richest histories. Everywhere inside TD Garden, there were reminders that this wasn’t just about winning a banner — it was about winning the Celtics’ 18th title, which would again move them past the Lakers for most in the league history.
With Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” playing pregame, the first “Let’s Go Celtics” chant excitedly filled the arena.
By the time they chanted it again at the very start of the second half, it was more out of desperation.
By then, the season already seemed decided.
Thursday against the Celtics, the Warriors looked fully realized, the team reaching the intersection of recapturing all the things that made them so special in their first title run while looking total comfortable with the group that they are now.
Andrew Wiggins, whom the Warriors landed in a string of moves that traces to Kevin Durant’s departure for Brooklyn, smothered Tatum functionally, taking the Celtics’ leading scorer out of the game. With momentum swinging to Boston in the fourth, he smoothly canned a three right in front of the Celtics’ bench.
Jordan Poole, the Splash Brother in training, continued to shoot without worry of consequence, the kind of freedom and confidence that has thrived under Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr.
Then there was Klay Thompson, back in the Finals after catastrophic injuries to his knee and Achilles tendon, setting the tone offensively early by hitting midrange jumpers while gliding across the lane.
And finally Draymond Green, who struggled for a lot of these Finals, turned in the kind of all-around performance that will one day land him in the Hall of Fame. He scored 12 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out eight assists while causing havoc on defense.
But it was Curry who put the Celtics, and the 2021-22 NBA season, to sleep, hitting his sixth three and signaling that it was time for Boston to go to sleep.
As Boston coach Ime Udoka pulled his starters with the game about to enter its final minute, Curry put his hands on the top of his head as he paced up and down the side of the floor. He curled his head toward the court before embracing Poole.
He’d later crumble to the court, the emotions overflowing.
The Warriors were back, and Curry got them there.