A friendly schedule, coupled with an 8-game homestand had the Golden State Warriors off to a flying 11-2 start to the season.
In their opening two games of 2021-22 they beat the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers, with their recent blowout win over the Chicago Bulls being their only other real test of the season, so tonight's road game against the Brooklyn Nets was earmarked as an 'are the Warriors actually good?' game.
NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock live out-of-market games (7-day free trial)
Well, after 48 minutes at Barclays Center, the Warriors more than answered the question, cruising to a 117-99 win over the Nets, behind another powerhouse performance from Stephen Curry.
Steph Curry in 29 minutes:- StatMuse (@statmuse) November 17, 2021
It's his 5th career game with 35+ points in less than 30 minutes, the most by any player since the 3pt era (1980). pic.twitter.com/YVhSQerNEF
Curry torched the Nets for 37 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals on a ruthlessly efficient 12-of-19 from the field and 9-of-14 from the 3-point line - his fifth game this season with 7+ made threes. He already has three games with 40+points on the season.
Tonight also marked the 37th game of his career with 9+ 3-pointers - no other player in NBA history has more than 10.
Entering the season, Curry had the fifth-best odds to win MVP, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and the favourite Luka Doncic and this week we had Curry at No. 1 on NBA.com's MVP Ladder after the first month of games.
After tonight's performance against Kevin Durant, who we had at No. 2 on the Ladder, Curry only solidified his standing as the early favourite to win the award.
Prior to tip-off, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the race so far was definitely between the former teammates. "Yeah, no doubt, to me they've been the two best players in the league so far," he said of Curry and Durant, who finished with 19 points on 9-of-19 shooting tonight.
MORE: Breaking down Kevin Durant's decision to leave Warriors for the Nets
Even the Barclays Center crowd was raining down MVP chants while Curry was at the free throw line early in the second quarter.
MVP chants for Steph in Brooklyn 🗣 pic.twitter.com/y02qvVCgDX- Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 17, 2021
The Warriors now hold a league-best 12-2 record to sit atop the Western Conference, with Curry putting up 28.7 points, 6.6 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game through the first 14 games of the season, while knocking down 40.6 percent of his threes on 13.4 attempts a night.
The 33-year-old won back-to-back MVPs in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with his second coming as the only player ever in NBA history to win the award with a unanimous vote. Last season, despite the Warriors finishing ninth in the Western Conference (39-33) and getting knocked out of the Play-In Tournament, missing the post-season, Curry finished third in voting behind Joel Embiid and eventual winner Nikola Jokic after leading the league in scoring at 32.0 points per game.
A third MVP trophy would put Curry in rare air as just the ninth player ever to win 3+ MVP trophies, joining Magic Johnson (3), Larry Bird (3), Moses Malone (3), LeBron James (4), Wilt Chamberlain (4), Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6).
It's still very early in the season to be handing out trophies, but Curry is doing his best to separate himself from the pack.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.