Friday, December 9

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson prove they still have knockout punch, but how long can erratic shooting hold up?


Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 59 points on 14 made 3-pointers in Golden State’s series-clinching win over Memphis on Friday. Thompson carried the day, making eight of his 14 3s and 11-of-22 shots overall. Curry was 4-for-17 at one point before hitting two dagger triples as the Warriors finally put the Grizzlies away. 

But numbers require context. Curry did not play well. He wound up with 29 points, and it’s a testament to his all-time threat level that he was sloppy with the ball and couldn’t make a shot for most of the night that he still wound up a plus-14 for the game, and indeed he hit the shots when they really counted, but looking ahead to either Dallas or Phoenix in the conference finals, he is going to have to be better. 

The same goes for Thompson, who was terrific on Friday but has been forcing shots for a while now. It took an 11-for-22 showing in Game 6 for Thompson to finish the series above 40 percent from the field. He’s not the defender he used to be, putting far more emphasis on his offensive contributions. 

Curry, meanwhile, simply cannot find his shot, save for a few box-score-saving runs. He was 6-for-17 from 3 on Friday, and he concluded the Memphis series at 32 percent from beyond the arc and 41 percent overall. This is by far the worst postseason shooting of his career on the heels of the worst regular-season shooting of his career. 

As I wrote earlier this week, Curry’s shooting struggles have served to reinforce just how great a player he is. He’s still posted five 30-point games in the playoffs; only Giannis Antetokounmpo has more so far. He ground out 29 on Friday. He is such a winning player. Even when his shots aren’t going in, he keeps attacking off the dribble, keeps moving off ball, keeps hunting shots and creating advantages for everyone else. James Harden ought to take note. 

But at some point, you would think, these shots are going to have to start going in as the postseason progresses. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors beating the Suns, or even the Mavericks, with Thompson and Curry shooting so inconsistently, especially because they don’t have an elite defense to fall back on anymore. 

It’s a blank slate now. The Warriors have survived two rounds, and the score starts 0-0 against whoever they play next. Curry and Thompson can put these erratic ways behind them and get hot at the right time, and if they do, the Warriors can beat anyone. But we’ve yet to see evidence that they can conjure up their old magic on a consistent basis. 





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