Warriors turning the page heading into Game 2
Without Stephen Curry, the Warriors are simply ordinary. (AP)
SAN ANTONIO -- Stephen Curry said he slept like an infant – about five hours after Monday’s game ended.
“4:30, I guess,” he said when he was asked when he finally fell asleep. “You know, just playing the game around in my head, the opportunities we had to win, how things went in the overtimes. Just everything.”
It still ended up the same, though – San Antonio remained defending champion of this particular weight class, 129-127 in double overtime. And while Curry knew he wasn’t responsible for the loss, it was a loss nonetheless, and that’s how this gets graded. Pass-fail.
On every other important matter, this series and this postseason has revolved around Curry, the Warriors’ first Big New Thing since Tim Hardaway. Monday was his latest in a series of breakout nights, a 44-point 11-assist performance that was undermined by Manu Ginobili’s one field goal 1.2 seconds from expiration.
But the grander view is that the Warriors yet again misjudged the amount of fuel they had left for the final laps. They went dry in the final 4:30 of regulation, and though they played the Spurs even through most of the extra 10 minutes, nobody plays the Spurs truly even. Failing to terminate them at the first opportunity typically has meant that they terminate you, and even if it took Ginobili’s 26-footer with time descending into nanoseconds to do so, the result remained the same.
[RATTO: Game 1 full of agonizing almosts]
And Curry, who sat out only four seconds of the entire game (Harrison Barnes was a distant second, five minutes back), became the topic of fresh discussion because he got no time off to refresh and regenerate.
Which, to nobody’s surprise, he found dismissible on its face.
“I don’t remember a lot about the first overtime,” he said. “That was sort of a blur, really. But I know how we made plays in the second, and we had the lead right up until that last shot. We made mistakes and we might have been a little predictable, but we were with them the entire way. We had our chances.”
Of course, Curry being Curry, he wasn’t going to say, “Yes, Mark Jackson regards me as little more than a rented mule, to be used until I’m all used up.” This is Curry’s time, and he will ask out of a game minutes after asking the team if he can spend his summers as a rodeo clown.
And to be a bit more micro about it, his time is rapidly becoming the third quarter. This is him in seven third quarters so far this postseason:
FG (%) 3PT (%) A/TO PTS PPG (AVG) MIN (AVG)
32/46 .696 17/26 (.653) 14/7 73 (12.2) 73:14 (10:28)
And this is him the rest of the time:
FG (%) 3PT (%) A/TO PTS PPG (AVG) MIN (AVG)
37/98 (.377) 12/40 (.300) 53/19 104 (14.8) 224 (32)
In short, Curry is extraordinary in the third, but moderate at best in the first, second and fourth quarters. Reading into that takes one down a series of rabbit holes that causes the entire logic train to derail in a twisted heap of nonsense.
But there seems no easy way to hold him out of games at this stage; it’s the burden that comes with “my time.” And so, people seek contrivances to lighten his load, like forcing Mark Jackson to find times to sit him out regardless of situation (which is daft), or maybe playing him on the ball in the fourth quarter rather than Jarrett Jack (which is at least debatable, though head coach Mark Jackson said, “Jarrett is going to have the basketball and is going to have to be a playmaker for us and we're totally fine with that.”).
But because 57:56, which was Curry’s playing time in Game 1, is so Chamberlain-esque, the worry is that he cannot be Curry from beginning to end, when in fact nobody has been Curry from beginning to end, ever. “Oh, you think I should get 22 every quarter?” he said with a sly laugh at one point Tuesday.
Therein lies the great conundrum about Curry’s playing time. He has to play. And he has to rest as little as possible. It is a tightrope between 43 and 48 minutes that can only be solved by the scoreboard rather than by fiat. The Warriors are Stephen Curry right now; there is of course more to it than that, but without Curry, the Warriors are simply ordinary.
And ordinary won’t do now. Curry has to play to be able sleep well, and there is no simpler explanation than that.