Steph Curry put up 32 points in back-to-back video game-like performances in San Antonio, but inconsistencies on both sides of the ball have kept the Warriors lingering in the 8th spot in the West.
The opening night of another baseball-like midseason series between Golden State and the Spurs in San Antonio Monday saw the Warriors jump out to an early lead on the back of an inspiring defensive team buy-in, finding themselves up by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.
However, an impeccably well-coached Spurs team would force the Warriors to pay for every single one of their mistakes, as sloppy play and turnovers in the third and fourth quarter stacked up on top of the other, allowing San Antonio to take the lead with their first bucket of the 4th quarter, which the Spurs would not relinquish.
Two-time MVP Steph Curry has been doing everything so far this season to put his name in contention for his third award, and Monday night was no different. Splashing in 32 points on 10-17 shooting, Steph was making his opponents look foolish, stepping back, losing defenders to knock down attempts from areas on the floor most professional ballers would not even conceive of pulling from.
Despite seven points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists from Draymond Green in the first game, the former NBA DPOY struggled mightily throughout the contest, missing two clutch free throws in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, before heaving up a bizarre half-court shot in an unsuccessful attempt to draw a foul that lost the Warriors the game.
“I felt like that was the smartest dumb play in history,” Green said in his postgame press conference. “Very smart, but it ended up being dumb as hell.”
Curry was noticeably upset at the end of the contest, kicking the air after Spurs’s Dejounte Murray iced the game with a corner three, and walked off the court without sticking around for any conversation, deflated.
But #30 picked up right where he left off for the second matchup between the same two teams a night later.
The second contest Tuesday night started off in identical fashion to the former, with the Warriors riding an energetic defensive effort to a quick lead, and Steph knocking down circus shots to close out the first quarter.
While the Spurs were able to hang around in the first half the Dubs took the game over in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 20 off the back of timely shooting from Steph’s supporting cast, and Curry was able to sit most of the fourth quarter as it was effectively out of reach for San Antonio.
The Warriors are currently second in the league in defensive shooting percentage at 43.5%, meaning they are making it extremely difficult for other teams to score. But silly mistakes and unforced errors have started to compound into costly turnovers, and while Steve Kerr’s focus up to this point has been on defense, it begs the question of whether or not Golden State should be more focused at this point on offensive stability and overall consistency.
What doesn’t need to change: Stephen Curry’s performances. Over his last four games, the veteran shooting guard is averaging 37.4 points per game. However, an upset to the Dallas Mavericks last week in which Curry scored 58 highlights the fact that if the Warriors are to be successful this season, the original Splash Brother cannot do it alone. While Draymond has been an exceptional facilitator over those past four games, averaging nearly 13 assists per contest, the Warriors will need to find someone else to help Steph shoulder the scoring load.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has seen somewhat of a return to form recently, shooting the 3-ball at over 50% across this latest four-game road trip, and swingman Andrew Wiggins has quietly been putting up solid numbers. In Tuesday night’s performance, no one player excelled to help Steph finish off the Spurs, but instead multiple teammates chipped in timely baskets when Curry was off the floor or being double and triple teamed.
“I’m still believing that we are close to tipping the scales and finding a little momentum, I really believe that,” head coach Steve Kerr told the media in his postgame Zoom, “but we have to prove that.”
If Warriors fans are being honest, they’ll tell you the Dubs aren’t looking poised to win it all this year, with a Los Angeles Lakers team in their division that only got stronger this offseason and James Harden’s move to Brooklyn solidifying the Nets as an honest challenger.
However, this Warriors squad will need the highest seed and all the playoff experience they can get this year in order to bleed an extremely inexperienced second unit in time for Klay Thompson’s return the following season, when the Warriors will again be an outright title contender with expectations to win it all.
In order to achieve a high seed in the Western conference and avoid dropping more games that they should win, the Warriors will look to find a renewed sense of urgency when it comes to scoring the basketball. While they have yet to lose three games in a row this season, they have also been unable to win back to back to back, signaling their inability to maintain consistency.
The Golden State Warriors will have another chance to improve on their standing in the West come Thursday night against the Orlando Magic at home at 7pm PST, before Kevin Durant’s return to Chase Center for the featured NBA matchup of the week Saturday evening.
Top Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images