Golden State Warriors: Can They Still Count On Stephen Curry?


May 14, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the AT

In Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Curry dropped 44 points, despite the overtime loss. In Game 2, he scored 22 points in a pretty inefficient fashion, shooting 7-of-20 from the field and 2-of-6 from distance. That time, though, the Golden State Warriors came away with a victory in San Antonio because of a fantastic showing from Klay Thompson.

In Game 2, Curry also only added four assists to his stat line. Then, the series headed back to Oakland, and the Spurs hung another loss on the Warriors in Game 3. That game, Curry scored 16 points on 5-of-17 from the field and 3-of-9 from long-range in another inefficient game (though he did dish out eight assists). Then in Game 4, he again scored 22, but in a far more efficient game. He went 7-of-15 from the field and 5-of-10 from behind the arc, along with four assists.

In Game 5, the Warriors’ backcourt, the one heralded as the best shooting duo ever, pulled a disappearing act worthy of a world-class magic show. In a convincing win by the Spurs, Curry and Thompson brought only 13 points to the table.  Curry contributed nine of them in his worst showing of the playoffs. He went 4-of-14 from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range, in a performance that can be called lackluster, at best.

May 14, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the AT

Curry’s plus-minus also came in at minus-21. Add to that the fact that he tweaked his ankle a couple of games back, and Golden State has a recipe for disaster brewing with their star point guard. Despite playing pretty standard minutes in Game 5, Curry did seem to be struggling his left ankle, which definitely contributed to his poor game. This all begs the question: is this when Curry disappears from the series?  Is he done making an impact?

That’s a tough one to answer. He’s had great games this series, but ever since the ankle roll, his game has been declining. He’s getting less-efficient as time goes on. He even said that he doubted that it would be 100 percent any time soon, which doesn’t bode well for Golden State’s hopes in this series, especially fighting elimination at home down 3-2.

Curry’s still arguably the best shooter in the game, so he will continue to score. But, if he is robbed of his efficiency again, his team can’t afford for him to be the same volume shooter he typically is. Whether he can or cannot continue to shoot and score at a high clip remains to be seen, but it all hinges on how well his ankle feels. If this was the regular season, Curry probably wouldn’t be play.

However, there’s reason to believe that the home advantage at Oracle can help him out, being the best home crowd in the NBA. The Warriors become a whole new beast in Oakland, one that the Spurs will have a hard time handling.

May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; General view of the interior of Oracle Arena after game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Curry’s game isn’t all shooting, and that’s where he’s been failing steadily lately. He’s a highly-skilled passer, and he excels at creating opportunities for his teammates.  There’s a reason he led the NBA postseason in assists-per-game in the first round.  nd even when he doesn’t shoot well, other teams will continue to apply maximum pressure to him because of how fast he heats up (see: postseason third quarters). That means looser defense on other players due to the increased pressure on him. Every time he steps on the court, his mere presence changes the game plan for the opposing team.  So, is he done?  Is his impact on this series done?  Not at all, but it will be different.

For Curry to have the best impact on the remaining games in the series, he needs to play his shooting by ear.  If they aren’t falling, stop taking them, and shift more to a pure point guard mindset.

Backed against the wall, the Warriors just can’t afford for him to take 15-20 shots at less than 30 percent success.  If that happens again, or if the ankle starts bugging him again, that’s the time for his focus to shift entirely to facilitating, which is extremely important given Golden State’s shooting prowess.

May 14, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) Andrew Bogut (12) and Stephen Curry (30) walk off the court during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT

In addition, with Carl Landry doing a great job inside like he has this series, the Warriors have a decent inside presence on offense. Curry, Barnes,and Thompson can continue to stretch the defense, allowing inside opportunities.  Curry’s focus, if the shots continue to not fall, needs to shift to presence and passing.

So, if current trends continue, Curry’s impact can definitely be anticipated to be reduced.  He may not score a ton of points, and we may not see another one-legged three pointer for a while.  He remains a supremely talented point guard despite that, and he’s just as good at putting the ball in a good place in his teammates’ hands as he is at shooting from his own.

He might shoot less.  His game might change.  But, is Stephen Curry done?  Not even close.