The celebrations on Friday night said it all.
Stephen Curry drilled a clinical step-back buzzer-beater against the Houston Rockets — the first-ever in his career. The Golden State Warriors had won a tight game, and most importantly, it was a night that ended well for Curry despite his average start.
This brings him back in the MVP conversation again, especially with the season at the halfway stage. The Warriors are 33-13 and take on a fourth-place Utah Jazz on Sunday.
Topping the MVP standings for this week is Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. With 25.9 points per game (ppg), 13.9 rebounds per game (rpg), and 7.4 assists per game (apg) to show for, he toppled Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 6.1 apg).
Also making an upward climb was Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid (28.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.2 apg).
Per the official NBA site, Warriors star Stephen Curry was placed sixth on the MVP ladder (he was in the same position the week before as well).
However, an injury to Kevin Durant will see him miss suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets anywhere between four to six weeks, and that means a chance for Curry to break into the top five.
Note that he was topping the MVP chart before the Christmas slate and then his production came down. His last five games have seen him score 20+ points only twice (Here’s a quick look: 22 vs Houston, 39 vs Indiana, 18 vs Detroit, 19 vs Chicago, and 12 vs Milwaukee).
Barring the 39 vs Indiana, which ended in a loss, Golden State has managed to get that W despite Curry’s dwindled form. The question now remains: Can he climb a spot after this week’s formidable match-ups?
The Warriors play the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Nets this week after their game against Utah, who they will be facing for the second time this season.
The numbers are good news. Stephen Curry has dished out solid performances against each of these teams in their previous encounters. Here’s a quick look at how he’s fared against these sides this season and the final result for Golden State:
vs Jazz: 39 points, six rebounds, and nine assists (Result: Warriors won 123-116)
vs Mavs: 36 points, nine rebounds, and five assists (Result: Warriors lost 82-99)
vs Timberwolves: 34 points, five rebounds, and six assists (Warriors won 123-110)
vs Nets: 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists (Warriors won 117-99)
These numbers are a positive sign if Curry is looking for some inspiration, not that he needs to.
His slump is directly proportional to the final result. His lack of production would mean a tough challenge for the side, especially against these sides who are looking to make an upward climb in the standings.
The buzzer-beater performance against the Rockets comes as a massive boost, and for Curry, could this be the start of a consistent streak that he and the Warriors were looking for?
The 33-year-old felt he needed to do much better. Per ESPN, post the win against the Rockets, he stressed how frustrating it was when he didn’t reach the levels he aimed at while admitting his shooting needed more work.
Much depends on how this week pans out. While the Warriors will look to take the top slot in the West, Stephen Curry will hope to surge forward in the MVP race.