Steph Curry is considered by many the best shooter in the game. The shots that many would consider improbable are the ones that he seems to hit with ease. He has hit big shots time after time all season long on his way to winning the regular season MVP award. He definitely earned it. And playing on the best team in the NBA has its perks as well. And as the playoffs have gone forward, he has been hitting big shot after big shot whether a defender was there or not. And on the biggest stage in the NBA, many expected him to announce his presence and light up the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the Game 1 win, Curry made it happen with 26 points while shooting 50% from the field. When it was announced that Kyrie Irving was out for the rest of the series with a fractured kneecap, many expected him to light up Matthew Dellavedova going into Game 2 as he subbed for Irving. Well, many were dead wrong in that assessment. Curry went 5/23 from the field on his way to one of his worst shooting nights of his career. And now the Golden State Warriors head to Cleveland all tied up at one game apiece. But what can be made of this performance of Curry?
In one of the biggest games of his career, he failed to show up. He totally disappeared in this game. If it were not for the performance of his Splash Brother Klay Thompson (34 points), then the Warriors would have been beaten even worse than they were. Steph has to accept a lot of the blame for this loss. He was shooting his normal shots, but he also has to realize when things are not working and change it up. It seemed like all game long, he was hanging out at the three-point line. Of his 23 shots, 15 of them were three-pointers. Just think on that for a minute everyone. Steph Curry, who puts defenders on their heels each and every game he plays, shot 15 threes, hit two of them and only shot eight shots inside the three-point line. We know how well Steph can shoot and the things he can make happen from outside the arc, but this it totally unacceptable. When you are the MVP, this type of performance is something that does not happen. And when it does happen, the player in question is called out for it. For example, when LeBron James was playing for Miami in his 1st year, he led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals. Even though he did not win the MVP that year, it was expected that he would lead Miami to a title versus the Dallas Mavericks. But during that series, he disappeared when it mattered the most. And as a result, the Heat lost the series to the Mavericks and LeBron had plenty of things unleashed on him via social media. He was even called out by analysts on television. Eventually he got over the hump and won a title, but at that point and time, he was hearing it unmercifully from everyone. Of course, LeBron gave people unlimited motivation to do what they did and that did not help it, but he was called out everytime a performance he had was not up to par in the eyes of fans and media. Curry should get some scrutiny for this one as should any great player when they come up short in a big game.
For the next game, Curry should take this performance and all the talk about Dellavedova to heart. The first thing he should do next game is attack the basket more. Dellavedova played a heck of a game defensively, but Steph helped him out as well. All the difficult shots that he usually hits he missed tonight. Those shots look great when they are going in, but in reality those are not good shots. Curry may want to try and decrease his level of difficulty by taking more high-percentage shots. High-quality shots will help make the Warriors offense more efficient and put more pressure on the defense of the Cavaliers. If he is able to do that, then it helps get other players like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala open shots. If anyone has noticed, the Cavs have been keying on Steph and Klay Thompson all series long so far. And when those two draw attention and make the smart play, it seems the Cavs are at their mercy. And when the Cavs are on their heels and the Splash Brothers are being aggressive and smart with the basketball, Golden State cannot and will not be beat. If Curry can do that for three games that the Warriors win, then they could be bringing the first title back to Oakland since 1975. One thing that has to be concerning about Steph’s mindset offensively going forward has to be what he said after the game. He said that he did not feel comfortable shooting the basketball in the first half of the game in his meeting with the press. If you are the best shooter in the game, this type of statements should never ever come out of your mouth and that has to be a little bit alarming. What if he comes out next game with these type of thoughts? He probably will not have these type of thoughts, but this does have to make you wonder.
But Steph’s bad play was not limited only to the offensive end. Steph was non-existent defensively when he first came into the NBA. Many wondered if he would ever be able to defend his position. But under the tutelage of former head coach Mark Jackson, Curry improved on that end of the court. And going into this season, he was a way better defender than he had been to start his career. In this series, you would not have expected him to be the one the Cavaliers would pick on defensively. Well, the Cavs devised a little bit of offense to target him on defense. Down the stretch of the game, the Cavaliers were running a pick-and=roll involving Curry’s man, Matthew Dellavedova. The result was two floaters and one big three pointer by Delly and those eight points coast the Warriors as well. If it was not for a late dash to tie the game, the Warriors would have been put out of their misery at that point. It may have not been a huge sample size, but it was something the Cavaliers will definitely come back to. In the first game, Irving was making it happen against Curry and that was to be expected. But for Dellavedova to get eight points in the fourth and make plays when Curry was guarding him is not good. It may have been the design of their defense, but Curry has to accept the blame for the coverage because many times he looked like he was in no man’s land on the pick-and-roll.
The good thing about this game is that Curry can file it in the back of his mind and forget about it. And the even better thing is that Curry has a Game on Tuesday that can help make up for what happened Sunday night. Curry, as much as he may not say, will be thinking about atonement when he touches the court in Cleveland. He will be looking to give Matthew Dellavedova the business and lead Golden State to the victory. And many Golden State fans will also be watching with anticipation to see how their MVP bounces back in Game 3.