The huge Stephen Curry lesson Warriors must learn from loss to Spurs
Fresh off their momentous win over the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors asserted their dominance as the top dog in the NBA. Their victory snapped the Suns’ historic 18-game win streak and washed away the sour taste in their mouths from their defeat just days prior.
But less than 24 hours later, the Warriors took an L against the San Antonio Spurs on their very same home floor. The Spurs have played better as of late, winners of three in a row coming into the game. But for Golden State, who had just won 11 straight home games by double-digits at home, to lose to a Spurs team that was 11 games behind them in the standings was not what most expected to happen.
After the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sounded unperturbed by the defeat, indicating that they could have very well swapped the Spurs loss with the win that they garnered over the Suns the night before.
Via ClutchPoints’ Mark Haynes:
“We didn’t have to win last night. One and two this week. It’s the whole body of work that counts. We’re 19-4, and we’ve gotten off to a great start…So we’re in a great place.”
Steve Kerr on how he views the team winning one of two games this week: "We didn't have to win last night. One and two this week. It's the whole body of work that counts. We're 19-4, and we've gotten off to a great start…So we're in a great place."
— Mark Haynes (@markhaynesnba) December 5, 2021
Stephen Curry just didn’t have it against the Spurs. He finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but shot a miserable 7-for-28 from the field and started out by missing his first nine shot attempts. Given the five-point margin, a better game from Curry could have easily resulted in a victory.
But at the end of the day, Steve Kerr’s words do ring true. These individual losses mean nothing in the grand scheme of things for a team like the Warriors. Through the first quarter of the season, they’ve already proven just how dominant they can be.
Not only have their wins piled on, but they’ve been dominating near every opponent they’ve faced with a point differential reminiscent of their title teams from just a few seasons ago. The Warriors are a title contender – and that’s with Klay Thompson and James Wiseman still on the mend.
The Warriors should have sat Stephen Curry
Given their early-season dominance and likely home-court advantage, the team should have rested Stephen Curry. For sure the Warriors superstar would object to having to sit in games when healthy. But despite still looking like he’s in the midst of his prime, Curry is in his age-33 season and will turn 34 come playoff time.
After a grueling double-header against their Western Conference rival Suns, Stephen Curry deserved a break on the second night of a back-to-back against the Spurs. He was clearly off his game on Saturday night. And while it could have very well been just a random rough shooting performance, playing the night before probably played a part in that.
The Warriors must find opportunities to rest Stephen Curry whenever possible and trust that the team around him is talented enough to pick up the slack. We’ve seen how proper resting patterns for star players have helped contending teams garner success in the past. Golden State encountered that first-hand when they faced a well-rested Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Curry’s team-high 37 minutes to take 28 shots against the Spurs may not be too concerning in the short-term. But these nights will start piling up as the season goes on. The Warriors would be wise to plan accordingly.