Stephen Curry started Thursday’s game perfect, and he was going to be damned if he didn’t finish it that way.
Trailing by two with just over two minutes to go, Curry drained two deep 3’s to push the Warriors to a 115-113 over the visiting Clippers.
Steve Kerr almost had no words to describe his superstar’s night:
Steph Curry was just Steph Curry. There’s never been anybody like him. Those last two 3’s were ridiculous.”
It couldn’t have ended any other way, not when Curry ended the first quarter 9-of-9 from the field. He had watched Andrew Wiggins clank two midrangers and Draymond Green split a pair of free throws the previous three possessions, before mercifully doing it himself.
The two clutch baskets and a pair of free throws gave Curry 45, and he also finished with 10 rebounds, the second straight game he’s had double-digit boards.
Curry was critical of his shooting in the opener against the Lakers, so Green said he could tell the shots were going fall Thursday:
He don’t say much ever, and he didn’t miss a shot today in shootaround so you kind of knew it was coming. But he could have missed every shot in shootaround and I still would have known it was coming.”
It looked like a Wiggins game at the start as the small forward hit three straight 3’s, but he was quickly surpassed by Curry who hit his first nine shots including five 3’s.
Curry ended the first with 25, just two points less than the entire Clippers team. Curry really started to take over once he was joined on the court by Bjelica and Porter, and had 15 after they entered the game with 3:34 left in the quarter.
When those two join Curry and Poole, the floor becomes wide open for Curry to do just about anything he wants. Drive and kick out to one of those shooters? Go one-on-one because the other team can’t afford to double off them or pack the lanes?
All the options are at his fingertips. And they all can put the ball on the floor too, which lets the team run constant dribble drives around Curry. It left the Clippers with no answer for how to guard the former two-time MVP—but they won’t be alone.
It’s an impossible equation for other teams to try and solve. It becomes even harder if Andre Iguodala can sustain this level of production and youthful appearance this whole season.
It was easy to write off his 12 points on opening night as just a jolt of throwback energy, especially since it would have been his fourth-highest scoring output all of last season.
But he’s put in two vintage Iguodala performances in back-to-back games. He just looks like a completely different player than he did in Miami. He had a quick jump block on a jump shot, active hands in the passing lanes and led multiple fast breaks.
Those seem like typical things for the 37-year-old vet if the last time you saw him was in a Warriors uniform two years ago, but if you saw him in Miami, he was doing none of those things and looking very old.
It seemed almost like a pure nostalgia signing when he came back to the Bay, and yet here he is being a key bench contributor again, like he never left.
Kerr though isn’t shocked by how good Iguodala has been:
We knew he still had plenty in the tank, and obviously a big part of this season will be pacing him and we’re going to have to sit him at times and make sure he’s ready for the playoffs and healthy. But when you understand the game like he does and have that gift in terms of athleticism… He’s just so smart he’s going to make an impact every night.”
For once though the bench isn’t the problem for the Dubs.
The dirty little secret that’s going to come out sooner rather than later is that the Warriors worst lineup is their starting five, or anytime Draymond Green and Wiggins share the floor.
They’re the two guys other teams will dare to shoot and sag off of.
It’s evident how much they cramp the floor, and it was no clearer than in the second quarter, after the shooting lineup got up and down and pushed the lead to 17, then Wiggins entered a minute after Green and the Warriors got outscored 7-25.
It’s not just production either, aesthetically they are just much more fun to watch with every other lineup. And when you add Kevon Looney to them, their anti-gravity constricts anything Curry can create.
No dribble drives, no drive and kicks to shooters unless you want to count Wiggins as a shooter, which you shouldn’t, and no Curry one-on-ones.
If the Warriors play with joy when they have shooters, their starting lineup plays with misery. And yet they continue to subject themselves to it for the first seven minutes of each half. I guess you can’t appreciate the good times without the bad.
Green and Wiggins finished with a plus minus of minus-7 and a minus-5 respectively, while Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. were each a plus-13.
While that’s a new problem the recurring turnover problem hasn’t gone away.
Turnovers nearly doomed the Warriors into wasting a Curry explosion, although to be fair Curry himself accounted for six himself.
starting backcourt mate Jordan Poole finished with seven, while the Clippers had seven total as a team.
In the end though, Curry proved to be too much to overcome for LA. Even on a day where he has six times the amount of turnovers as assists.
Curry’s confidence never waned though:
“Law of averages, keep your confidence. Staying aggressive. Don’t know if I had a perfect start like that before, but just a good flow from the jump. Had fun out there.”
And that is the scary part for the league. Curry has played two imperfect games, games he is no doubt frustrated by. Yet the Warriors are 2-0 and have looked the best they have in years. Basketball is exciting again in the Bay
After just one game in front of the home crowd, the Warriors take to the road again starting with a short trip up to Sacramento where they’ll take on the improved Kings Sunday.
Green briefly left the game to get his right wrist looked at in the locker room. He returned to the game but shot just 2-of-9 from the free throw line and none of them looked particularly close. … The Warriors took just 31 3’s as a team and only 39 the game before after leading the league with over 50 3’s a game in the preseason.