Stephen Curry did not play well against the Phoenix Suns, and that’s likely why the Warriors lost. And Steph was bench-ridden for much for much of the fourth. From the post-presser:
ESS: “When you sat (Curry) in the fourth quarter, was that a teaching tool, when you were benching him? Or was that a basketball strategy?
Keith Smart: “Anything I do is a basketball decision. I just don’t pinch people for no reason at all. Everything I do is about teaching the game of basketball.”
ESS: “Why does Monta tend to get more playing time than Steph does? In this game, he played the full 48 minutes.”
Keith Smart: “The man (Curry) got hit in the eye and he wasn’t the same.”
When questioned about his fourth-quarter benching, Curry downplayed the eye and said: “I had a lapse, and I got yanked.”
The lapse was an intercepted pass, followed by a Jared Dudley layup–concurrent with Curry’s foul on the bucket. And there are two schools of thought on how to handle these botched plays:
1. Coach#1: Your young star is screwing up. Bench him till he settles, bench him till he learns.
2. RoboCoach3000: I am robot coach who believes in…regression to the mean. Curry’s poor play is…anomalous…leave him in..play will…rebound…Jeremy Lin just blocked his…own layup.
Obviously, I side with RoboCoach3000. I get why players are yanked after awful plays, but I’m not convinced by such a strategy–especially when the Warriors bench is comprised of discarded scraps from other benches. I know fans love to see a player hooked upon screwing up, but good play isn’t simply about concentration, heart and hustle. Athletes have ebbs and flows, and a flow is more likely to follow and ebb. If an above average player plays below average, a pendulum swing could be in short order.
So when I ask Keith Smart about whether the Curry hook is a teaching tool or basketball strategy, I’m probing his philosophy. Even though the bench played well in Stephen’s absence, it won’t on most nights. As in, Charlie Bell and Jeremy Lin. To bench Curry for isolated bad plays is to sacrifice points in pursuit of teaching him a larger lesson.
Do you favor this tough love approach? I don’t, but I could see why you would.
In other news, Monta Ellis unleashed holy hell from the offensive end. He was also completely over matched against Jason Richardson, which is less his fault than his height’s mistake. You know where this is headed: Monta plus Steph might not be workable long term. Pick your tribe.