It’s hard to choose one word to describe Stephen Curry, but Scott Ferrall has come up with a pretty good one. It’s short, it’s succinct and it’s one syllable.
It’s hard to think otherwise after Game 3 of the Warriors/Pelicans first-round playoff series Thursday. Curry dropped 40 points on New Orleans, hitting a ridiculous three-pointer to force overtime and then hitting a deep three to open the overtime session. The Warriors won, 123-119, overcoming a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit in the process.
So yeah, freak.
“He is,” Bleacher Report senior writer Howard Beck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And the thing is, I feel like Steph Curry should be given extra points for degree of difficulty. If we scored Steph Curry not just by the shots he made, but by degree of difficulty, he’d be leading the league by a long shot in scoring. The shots he hit are incredible, the pressure that he was under – he did get hammered (on the game-tying shot at the end of regulation).The league acknowledged (the next day) that he should have been going to the line. Not much consolation after the fact. On the other hand, they did win, so I think the Warriors are perfectly happy about it at this point.”
Game 4 is Saturday in New Orleans at 7 p.m. ET.
“Lost in all this is the fact that New Orleans – a young team that is obviously making its playoff debut, Anthony Davis (is making) his playoff debut – they put up a heck of a game themselves,” Beck said. “Played hard enough (and) well enough to win. They didn’t. They’ll be down 3-0. They probably end up getting swept. They’re not going to have their first taste of playoff-series victory this time out, but they’re playing one of the best teams of all time statistically and by the Warriors’ record. We should recognize that. While all our jaws are on the floor watching Steph Curry, we should recognize that the Pelicans have put up a pretty nice series here.”
Going forward, though, Ferrall wonders if the Warriors are too reliant on Curry and Klay Thompson to produce. Curry is averaging 32.0 points per game in this series; Thompson is averaging 25.0. The next three top scorers for Golden State? Draymond Green (13.7), Harrison Barnes (7.7) and Andrew Bogut (7.7)
Curry and Thompson are carrying the Warriors against the Pelicans, but what happens if they have to face the Rockets? Or the Spurs? Or the Bulls? Or the Cavs?
“It’s an interesting question, and it’s a question that I think a lot of people have had,” Beck said. “Certainly we’ve heard Charles Barkley over the course of the season raise those doubts again and again, saying that basically this is a jump-shooting team (and that) they’re going to live by the three and die on the three. Where he’s wrong on that, I think, is just that, yes, this is a team that primarily lives offensively by those two guys taking a lot of shots – and long-distance shots. But they’re also a supreme defensive team – the best defensive team in the NBA this season. So when their shots aren’t falling, they can stay in a game.”
And even when the Warriors aren’t in a game, Curry and Thompson can lead them back in a blink of an eye – just as they did in Game 3 when facing a 20-point deficit.
“You never know which quarter all of a sudden one or both of those guys is just going to explode – and they often do,” Beck said. “No other guy on that team is probably going to drop 20 on you on any given night, so you don’t have that fail-safe of a great bench scorer. But you have all these guys who just do a lot of things really well. (Andre)Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and the other guys in the starting lineup – Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes – between them all, they’re going to get you something. They do score inside in other ways. They don’t have any supreme slasher type, but they do manage to find their points.
“It hasn’t been an issue all season,” Beck continued. “They won 67 games, which is one of the top 10 records of all time. I’m not that concerned about them, but you raise a fair issue. It will be interesting when they go up some of these other teams that do have dominant inside scorers (and) dominant bigs.”