Stephen Curry was impressive in every area but one in Golden State’s Game 4 loss to the Lakers on Monday. Shooting. He finished 12 of 30 from the field, including 3 of 14 from 3, and he thinks there will be two shots in particular if the Warriors don’t find a way to come back from this 3-1 deficit to avoid elimination. About a long time.
With the Warriors trailing with less than 40 seconds to play, Curry triggered a switch and made Anthony Davis one-on-one at the top of the key. It was a familiar position for Curry, who faced another sitting-duck big man in the 2016 Finals lineup, Kevin Love, and a similar matchup against the preseason in that regard.
A 2019 story Written by then-ESPN reporter Jackie McMullen, Curry lamented that in the heat of that final game, he didn’t get his adrenaline down enough to avoid the urge to shoot a 3-pointer, instead passing by the slow-footed Love. A very conservative shot, even though the Warriors were down three in that event.
“I look back and think I could have easily gone around [Love] And got 2 [pointer], we could have gotten a stop and then I could have gone down and hit another shot and we would have won another championship,” Curry told McMullen of his 2016 decision. “Instead of me going for the hero shot, I felt. I could do it. It was a shot that was out of my control. It cost us a championship.”
Fast forward to Monday night and Curry had a do-over opportunity: Davis on an island, this time going for a two-pointer wouldn’t have been a conservative play; All the Warriors had to do was take the lead, again just one.
Curry danced all over Davis, just as he did Love in that fateful moment seven years earlier, but he never fully committed to going all the way for Davis. His reluctance, like Love’s case, allowed Davis to move his feet, forcing Curry into a contested, step-back, one-foot jumper that went wide.
But Curry got a second chance. Draymond Green latched onto the offensive rebound and dished it back to Curry, who again one-on-one Davis in space. Again, he fired a 30-foot-recoil miss that was rash, ill-advised, even for a shooter of Curry’s pedigree.
It’s a reflection of the Kevin Love moment Curry always gets. He will always regret the decision he made that night in 2016, but given his chance at a do-over, he made the same decision in 2023.
Again, it’s a shot Curry can do, and has He did it countless times in his career. But it is not necessary. Davis is a capable perimeter defender for his size, but he can’t stay in front of Curry if he’s committed to going all-out on him.
What you can understand about Curry’s motivation to shoot the 3-pointer is that even if he gets Davis, he’ll face opposition in the paint, which could result in a more contested shot or a pass to someone else. At most points in a game, an open look is better than a contested one. But in this case, Curry wanted to be the one taking the shot. He doesn’t want to put himself in a position where he’s facing multiple, converging defenders and is forced to give the ball away.
So he definitely took the shot that he knew was there, that he knew he could do. But the shot against love was a shot he had made thousands of times. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect shot. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to argue that Curry’s decision to hit a 30-foot rainbow against Davis in a point game was the perfect shot Monday night.
Give him credit for having the guts to take the shot, but I have a feeling Curry will regret Davis’ decision regarding the Love shot, and what chance he has to play again when the smoke clears from this series. Gone wrong. Unless the Warriors win again, of course. No one, least of all Curry, cares what happened at the end of Game 4.