Like the first 12 games of the Golden State Warriors’ new season, no game has highlighted the difference between the past and present of Stephen Curry’s basketball reality more than Thursday’s 114-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets. No matter how hard Curry and Coach Steve Kerr try to win, the Warriors’ defense needs to play with more physicality, but there is another point that is just as important and becomes more important as the game progresses. It’s a question that will define the next four months of the group’s season: Curry’s size is not enough to overcome the chaotic offensive production of the players around him. For the first time this season, the Warriors lost a game in which the 32-year-old double MVP scored at least 30 points.
I think it’s just a matter of making connections within our team and finding out who and what we are, Kerr said in a video conference with reporters when asked how to keep Curry from getting frustrated if he doesn’t get help. It’s going to take some time, because the pieces are moving, new pieces are coming in, and James [Wiseman] has to learn the ropes as well. If you look at Steph’s record, it was obviously a great night, 35 points, but seven rotations, Draymond [Green] had five. We’re not on the same wavelength yet. And that’s going to take some time.
According to Kerr, the Warriors are still trying to get Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. into the game, and both players are still adapting to Curry’s style of play. Green had an unusual night on both ends of the floor, but since returning from a leg injury and conditioning issues due to COVID-19 protocols, he has proven to be a useful antidote to start the offense and get Curry going.
Kerr acknowledged that his team is still trying to figure out the best way to integrate Wiseman and can’t get him comfortable in the paint yet. But if Curry recalled one night that Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala weren’t there to let him go, this is the one.
After Curry scored 12 points in the first quarter, the Warriors seem to have lost their way. Wiggins and Oubre missed open shots all night, Green had no impact on the offense, and the bench had little response to a Nuggets team that likes to get up and get on the floor. The starting lineup showed only a glimpse of the pace in the first month of the season and continues to struggle to put on a solid performance.
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We’ve had good days and bad days, Mr Curry said. After 12 games, we have to figure out what we can do best, especially in the offense, to get ourselves a little more into the swing of things. And then living with the expectation of what we have to do defensively, and that’s just constant energy. It’s hard to play with a new group at night when you’re up against very talented teams…. Just be honest with yourself and what we can do best. Don’t get into our feelings when we’re not playing well.
Mr Kerr made similar comments and reiterated his belief that the offence would disappear over time. The veteran coach seems more concerned about the consistency of his defensive game than his offensive game, which is still trying to find its way with the 19-year-old forward. But as teammates continue to say they need to play better with Curry, it’s interesting to note that sometimes Wiggins and Oubre still aren’t sure where they should be on the field. In an attempt to fill in some of his gaps on Thursday, Curry suggested the Warriors are still struggling to find the best way to work together.
Stay aggressive and smart about basketball, Curry said when asked what he could do to make his teammates feel more comfortable. A few times tonight, for example, we start rushing. This aggressiveness leads one to get into trouble in this situation and take some inappropriate turns. I think it’s unfortunate that I started creating my own field and then we didn’t get to the next level where I’m moving it, we have a good flow and things stagnate pretty quickly in the first quarter.
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Curry’s minus 21 was the second worst plus/minus of his career in a game where he scored at least 30 points, according to ESPN statistics and data studies. Just like at other times of the year, he tries to force the action when he sees he’s not getting the help he’s used to when Thompson, Durant and Iguodala are on the floor. Curry continues to draw positive conclusions on nights like this and reminds us that even if he plays 38 minutes and scores 35 points, it won’t be enough because the margin for error for this team is very small.
There is no panic every time we lose and have a bad night, Mr Curry said. We know we have 12 games with a new lineup and a new look, and some nights it goes really, really well, and some nights it can be really bad. It just has something to do with the region.