As President of the Stephen Curry fan club, it pains me to write this, but it must be done. I’m not that concerned with Stephen Curry’s recent struggles – this December has been his worst statistical shooting month in two years – but after another clunker against the Cavs, I think it’s fair to ask if LeBron and Cleveland are in his head.
Watching Golden State, one thing is obvious – this is Kevin Durant’s team. As such, Curry has fallen off #NBATwitter’s Top 4 players in the league (LeBron, Durant, Westbrook, Harden), and naturally there is glee, because for all the love and adoration heaped on the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Everyman over the last two years, the Charles Barkleys of the world still think the best 3-point shooter in NBA history and the Warriors are gimmicky. Social media appears done with the 2-time NBA MVP, and you can tell the media is on the cusp of one of the fastest build-up, tear-downs, in modern history.
[Note: this is all you will hear about next Christmas, when Curry and the Warriors hopefully face the Cavs again]
All that being said … here we go:
- Yes, Curry was a glorified decoy on a pivotal possession in the final minute. Andre Iguodala dribbled for seemingly forever, and the Warriors had a shot-clock violation.
- Steve Kerr pulled Curry from the game on Cleveland’s final possession in a defensive move. Curry sat on the bench with his jersey pulled up over his face and didn’t watch. Kerr later told the media: “He can be smarter, make better decisions.” This might get spun into something negative. But Livingston is an upgrade defensively; Curry has been sloppy with the ball a lot this year.
- Let me just add this, before we look at some stats – the Warriors led by 14 with 9:34 left. They also led 108-105 with :46 left, and Iguodala collected a rebound, but then turned it over. If that turnover doesn’t happen, the Warriors win. Golden State led the Cavs for 41 minutes Sunday. The Cavs led for just :42. The Warriors remain the better team, something that was true in the Finals.
- Here’s a stat Charles Barkley should enjoy: The Warriors are 21-1 this season when they make at least 10 three-pointers in a game. They’re 6-4 when they don’t.
But finally, the blood you’ve been looking for: Curry’s stats against the Cavs in their last 18 games (LeBron only missed one of these games, a January, 2015 regular season game):
18 games (10-8)
94 assists, 70 turnovers
For a guy who has absolutely dominated the NBA during this two-year stretch, when he won two MVP awards, led the greatest regular season team in NBA history, and was generally unstoppable, the Cavs have definitely slowed Stephen Curry.
Are the Cavs in Stephen Curry’s head? That’s a question nobody can answer, but everyone will be asking from now until June. Curry’s struggles aside – it’s undeniable that he looks more turnover prone this year – two stats stuck out for me Sunday:
– Offensive rebounds: 18-5, Cleveland. That led to a 17-8 advantage in 2nd chance points.
– Turnovers: Golden State 19, Cleveland 12. If someone broke down every Golden State turnover, I’d guess 80% of them were unforced errors.
Golden State is only 32 games into the Kevin Durant era, so I refuse to panic about the Warriors or Stephen Curry vs the Cavs. I still believe the Warriors will beat the Cavs in a 7-game series in June.