Kurtenbach: Steph Curry just served notice to the NBA — don’t count out him or the Warriors

Peninsula Premier Admin

One game won’t tell you everything about a team, but it can tell you something.

They can be a little reminder of something that you knew, but hadn’t thought about in a long time.

The Warriors’ come-from-behind, 120-112 overtime win over the Miami Heat was one of those reminders. Notice was served: count out Steph Curry at your own peril.

And, by proxy, the Warriors, too.

Yes, even these Warriors.

I’ve been saying it for weeks, but you might believe me after Wednesday: The Dubs are dangerous. Their only issue is that they are shorthanded.

But at their core, they have two of the greatest winners in the history of the league. Basketball — especially the brand the Dubs play — can be ruthlessly complicated, but at some point, push comes to shove. In those moments — in the big moments of the big games — give me Curry and Draymond Green.

Wednesday night wasn’t a big game — it’s February, after all — but the Warriors, for whatever reason, played with a playoff-like intensity.

Perhaps it’s because they didn’t have Green (out with an ankle injury) giving them a grand total of — let me check my notes here — zero big men. Yes, that’s right, zero. They had to play with intensity, otherwise, they would have been bludgeoned.

Perhaps it’s because the two G-League guys that started the contest and the string of bench players didn’t know any better but to go as hard as possible. Guys who don’t play big minutes don’t really have a governor.

Perhaps it’s because Steve Kerr decided to live a little and “chase” a win.

Perhaps it’s because the defending Eastern Conference champion Heat are actually secretly trash this season. (Well, so much for the secret.)

It’s probably it’s a little bit of all those things.

But above all else, it’s because the Warriors had Curry Wednesday. And so long as you’re willing to work on defense and that man has a pulse, his team has a chance to win a game.

I’ve seen it too many times to ever doubt it again.

Curry was having his worst game of the year through three quarters Wednesday. As the Warriors entered the final frame down 10, Curry was shooting a hideous 27 percent from the floor, with a 2-of-15 mark from behind the arc.

He re-entered the game, down 11, with 7:22 to play in the fourth quarter.

From that point on, he and his tag team partner for the night, Kent Bazemore, both scored 11 points. Curry made three big 3-pointers down the stretch and dished out four assists as Miami double-teamed him every time he brought the ball down the court.

He took over and sealed the win.

Yeah, I know you were just reminded about the scoreless first half and peerless second of Game 6 in Houston in 2019. How could you not be?

“That’s why he’s one of the greatest players to play the game of basketball,” Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins said. “The ability to have a rough first half but come out with that same mindset and take over the ballgame when it needs to be taken over and make big shot…That’s why he is who he is.”

Green provides that defensive competence, Curry provides the offense. Together, in stereo, they make beautiful music, especially in the moments where the pressure starts making opponents hit the wrong notes.

And it’d be a shame to see that brilliance go to waste for even one season.

Make no mistake about it, the Western Conference is wide open. The Jazz might be the hottest team in basketball, but they’ve shown us nothing that indicates they will slay their postseason demons — their style of ball isn’t suited for winning in the different sport that is playoff basketball.

The Clippers might be a strong squad with two elite wings, but their lack of a reliable point guard looms large.

The Lakers are down Anthony Davis — the backbone of their defense, their separating factor — and he might be out for a long while.

The Nuggets? They have a worse record than the Warriors.

Who am I missing? The Suns? Blazers? Spurs?

You don’t think the Warriors can play with those guys?

It’s ok if you were reminded of the 2019 Western Conference Finals, when the Blazers were wiped off the floor by a shorthanded Dubs team.

But imagine if Curry’s sidekick wasn’t Bazemore or Oubre or… I don’t know, Brad Wanamaker? What if, instead, Curry had next to him a wing that can get buckets in a flash.

Yes, the Warriors really miss Klay Thompson, who would make easy work of those defenses that blitz, trap, and swarm Curry when he crosses half court. But he’s not coming back this year.

And the Warriors shouldn’t “wait until next year” — that’s hardly “lightyears ahead.”

If Curry’s performance and the Warriors’ win could serve a purpose outside of promoting nostalgia, let it send a message to the Warriors’ front office that this year should not be seen as a bridge.

Give Curry and Green a little bit more help to go along the steadiness of Wiggins and the Warriors would have a core to be reckoned with in the West.

The Warriors owe it to Curry to bolster this squad in the coming month.

The Baby Faced Assassin is a once-in-a-century kind of player — I don’t care how many draft picks the Warriors hoard, they’re never getting another Curry, who is, somehow, someway, still at the peak of his powers.

Don’t take him or those powers for granted. And don’t waste another year of his prime. Another scorer would turn this team’s ceiling from “winning a few series” to “could win the whole thing.”

The Warriors owe it to Green, too. He’s carrying a heavy load on this team, and while he’s younger than Curry, his peak is likely to end sooner. That is if he’s not already on the decline.

Green is one of the great winners in NBA history — a player whose impact on the game won’t be properly recognized until he’s long been a halftime pundit — and he can still turn on the magic, especially in the big moments.

Help him out a little and he’ll make sure the Warriors’ ducks are in a row when it’s impossible to think straight.

The Warriors even owe it to Wiggins and Thompson to push their chips into the middle of the table.

And the Warriors can’t ask for anything more from Wiggins, who was stellar on Wednesday, again playing outstanding defense and giving Golden State a steady offensive output. He’s been a tremendous player since coming over from Minnesota, but Wiggins is yet to score 30 points in a game this season — he’s not incendiary — and that’s what the Warriors really need. He’s a No. 3 on a title contender, a No. 4 on a title favorite, and a No. 2 on a squad that’s bounced in round two.

Waiting for Thompson to come back and be that incendiary scoring threat next to Curry puts undue pressure on a player who is coming off two catastrophic knee injuries.

It would be a mistake to bet against Curry and Green, a duo that hasn’t lost a Western Conference playoff series together since Green has been a full-time starter.

That duo always has a puncher’s chance, no matter how lopsided the fight might seem.

But give that duo a little extra oomph, and I think it would go a long, long way this season, and possibly beyond.

Contributed by local news sources

Next Post

Gose gathers two weekly gymnastic honors

Freshman Madeline Gose has had an auspicious start to her college career for the Texas Woman’s University gymnastics team. The Carmel High graduate was named the Gymnast of the Week and Newcomer of the Week by the Midwest Independent Conference. The Newcomer of the Week honor was the 5-foot Gose’s […]