The Golden State Warriors have been a completely different team without their system’s architect in Stephen Curry, who has played in only 51 games this season after boasting a clean bill of health during the past five seasons — playing 78 or more games in each.
Yet the team’s contrast of play without their All-Star point guard is quite noticeable, going 7-10 in their final 17 games, in which they only enjoyed 25 minutes with him on the floor.
The Warriors' final 17 games (all but 25 minutes without Steph Curry)
-62 point differential
105.7 offensive rating
107.8 defensive rating
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 11, 2018
It’s worth noting that a lot of these games are not solely the Curry factor, as the Warriors were also missing the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green through a stretch — massively affecting results at both ends of the floor.
Curry’s impending return won’t change these differences back to normalcies — still expected to have an adaptation period.
The Warriors have looked vulnerable, unlike any other time during their three-plus-year reign with the NBA’s top record and their struggles at both ends of the court have been well-documented, clearly lacking the same fire that made them such a tough team to beat.
Golden State will enter the first round with newly-signed Quinn Cook as the starting point guard, and while he possesses a lot of the Curry attributes in the perimeter — it simply isn’t the same to stick a good shooter at point guard and sticking the most lethal marksman of today’s game.
Teams have been forced to adapt to defending Curry and not having to make that call in the scouting report makes for a simplified game plan — no matter who the Warriors face in the first round.