Programming note: Relive Game 3 of the first round of the 2015 playoffs when NBC Sports Bay Area re-airs the Warriors' win over the Pelicans on Monday, March 31 at 8 p.m. PT.
By the end of the Warriors' historic run, second-half playoff comebacks were the norm. An opportunity for their talent to make up for their procrastinations in spectacular fashion.
The first display of their championship grit came five years ago when the Warriors overcame a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-119 in overtime.
The game's star was Steph Curry, who scored 40 points, including a last-second 3-pointer to force overtime, marking the start of many epic comebacks over the organization's dynastic run.
While the Warriors finished the 2014-15 season with 67 wins, the roster started the season as relative afterthoughts. After losing in the first round a season prior, most NBA observers surmised the team wouldn't fare much better, even under new coach Steve Kerr, who was freshly poached from the broadcast booth.
But the Warriors, led by Curry, who averaged 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists, shooting 44.3 from 3-point range, had other ideas. By the end of the year, Golden State finished with the league's best record, setting up a first-round matchup with the Pelicans.
Golden State coasted through the first two games, despite monster performances from Anthony Davis. The young big man flourished in Game 3, scoring 29 points and adding 15 rebounds. Davis was aided by Ryan Anderson, who scored 26 points to help the Pelicans spark a 19-0 run to start the second quarter. The lead ballooned to 20 as Anderson kept scoring, helping the Pelicans shoot 51 percent on the evening.
Then, the Warriors woke up.
The Warriors' run started midway through the fourth quarter as the Warriors outscored New Orleans 54-30 over the final 17 minutes. Curry was the catalyst, helping Golden State outscore the Pelicans 39-19 in the fourth quarter.
Curry's brilliance appeared in the final minute of regulation. With the Warriors down five with 15 seconds to go, Curry drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two. After Davis split a pair of free throws, Curry made a play that will forever live in Golden State lore.
Seconds later, Curry took an inbound pass from Draymond Green, took a dribble, threw up a brick, got the ball back off a rebound from Mo Speights, gathered, took another 3-pointer, got tackled by Anthony Davis and forced overtime. By the end of the evening, the Warriors paved the way for a sweep.
"You know how big of a deal it is to come back from a deficit like that in the playoffs on the road, in a game we knew was very important for us to really take control of this series," Curry told reporters following the game.
The Warriors' comeback paved the way for similar outbursts in the future, including Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets, prompting similar reactions from coaches and players alike in their wake.
"You can't sugarcoat it," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "We're all feeling like dirt right now, so obviously you want to build them up, but there is nothing that can build you up in a situation like that. It can be a growth moment for us. ... We've got to deal with it and own it."