(On Bollywood Night, fans were draped in “Got Curry?” attire)
There is an etiquette to when guys play. Coaches will assert a need to go with what works, to marshal the moment’s best option. But, politics and religion can influence lineup decisions. The politics: Guys with bigger contracts tend to get more burn so as to validate GMs. The religion: Stars are not to be yanked come crunch time.
In the postgame presser, Keith Smart claimed the temporary benching of Curry with 2:30 left wasn’t a “big deal.”
To the observer, the choice was loud and resultant from Acie Law’s louder crescendo. Steph was passive in the second quarter, Law was aggressive as a replacement. At a certain point, Acie was strutting between plays and that gait gave way to an improbable Euro step.
(Law asserts that he’s done this many times. I demand to see the footage)
Jokes about the Warriors finding their new point guard were flying through the air as we laughed at the spectacle of Law’s success.
(Will Curry come back in?)
He did and he didn’t. So Law replaced him and continued to play splendidly. And continued.
Curry entered crunch time, looking shaky and diffident. He threw a slow, loping pass to nobody in particular. And then, with 2:30 to play, he was replaced by Law–ever so briefly. The game was likely a hopeless cause at that point. The Warriors had snatched defeat from victory’s jaws. They had regressed to reality after having been a first quarter dream. In the beginning, Curry was improbably guarding Jason Kidd well, David Lee was somehow existing near a shaky Dirk performance. Monta Ellis was crafty enough to split even the atoms between double teams…
Anyway, by the end of the fourth, this game was essentially decided regardless of whom Smart intended to play. So the decision was either a message, a desperate grasp towards victory, or both. If it was a message, some fans would support this brand of coaching paternalism: If you play poorly you will get benched. If it was indeed, more communication-based than situation-based, I’d argue against. Curry is much better than Acie Law–tonight aside–and he should be given the wiggle room that Monta Ellis routinely receives (Twitter tells me that ESPN made a montage of Monta’s defensive lapses). Curry–by nearly every metric–has been the best Golden State player this year. He’s earned the right to play through failure.