The two-time reigning MVP didn’t have one of his best games Wednesday night against Portland in Golden State’s 125-117 victory. Despite the 35 points on 25 shots, 7 boards, and 5 assists, there were large swaths of the matchup where he turned the ball over due to indecisiveness in the lane and failed to guard whoever he was matched up against. Throughout the ups and downs in Curry’s odd 2016-17 campaign, there was one shining light of encouragement: aggression.
Throughout the larger portion of the last 4 seasons, Curry’s ability to fling from anyone and everywhere from any given time made him the feared assassin he is in today’s NBA. The first half of this season has yet to see the same fire. Truth be told, there were times against Mason Plumlee and the plethora of the Blazer bigs where he could have emulated the previous iteration of himself but instead chose to drive and kick.
After the game, he chuckled, “That’s funny” when asked whether his arm hurt from shooting this much. When asked whether he was trying to get more in tune with the basket, he explained that it was more a product of how the Blazers defense played them and that the extra pick-and-rolls and shots just rolled with it. Since Steph’s the type of teammate that rarely throws anyone under the bus, we’ll call that a perfectly fine politically correct response.
Regardless of the truth, there was an added intent to imposing his will. He shot 25 times compared to Kevin Durant’s 16 attempts, and the two ran an inordinate amount of pick-and-rolls together in the fourth quarter. The result of that didn’t go as smoothly as it might in a perfect world or NBA 2K but the process was necessary.
It showed in the opening quarter, with decisive dancing on the ball, cutting off the rock, an insanely deep 3 (that in postgame he said he’d likely continue to cut out) and a highly risky deep pass (resulting in a turnover). All the wildness, the low probability for normal human plays, the flash, and the thrill that can send the Oracle crowd into a reverberating tizzy. That’s what defines Stephen Curry.
And for a few moments, a few flashes, and an extended stretch here and there, it resurfaced. Forget the great defensive adjustments on C.J. McCollum, Kevin Durant’s efficiency, Draymond Green’s defense, or the strength of the opponent. Curry usually starts his seasons slow and turns it on after the All-Star Break. It’s starting to look like deja vu yet again.
1. Andre Iguodala’s old man pivot-game is spectacular. If I had more time, I’d break down his passing lane angles and footwork in the paint. He’s good for about 1-2 fundamentally solid plays per game.
2. Draymond Green played great defense especially in crunchtime, dropped 11 dimes, and shot just 6 times in 30 minutes. He is who I strive to be on the court if I were actually good at hoops.
3. Klay Thompson missed KD a couple times in transition and Durant was visibly annoyed. Steph approves.
4. It took 30+ games but Shaun Livingston looks to finally have his legs under him and the old man fadeaway game is back. Between him, David West, and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors Dad Bench Lineup is really fun.
5. So what can Portland get in return for Damian Lillard? Do we have a Monta-Steph situation here?
6. I never thought we would see a more efficient player than Steph but KD is consistently doing things like scoring 30 points on 16 shots. That’s just ridiculous.