Stephen Curry has hit two of his last 19 3-pointers. He followed up a 3-for-17 night by going 5-of-24 on Wednesday in Dallas. Wednesday’s loss came after a 15-game stretch in which Curry made 37.9% of his field goal attempts.
When was the last time the NBA’s all-time greatest 3-pointer shooter — and one of its most prolific scorers — went cold like this?
“I haven’t,” Curry said postgame. “So I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Even during his 16-game “slump,” Curry is still averaging 23.8 points per game. The Warriors are still significantly better with him on the court than without him. Golden State is still 11-5 in that stretch. And while neither Curry, his teammates, nor coach Steve Kerr appear concerned, the cold spell is nonetheless noteworthy.
“The ball’s just not going in,” Curry said. “Body of work over the course of this year has been pretty solid. This last stretch has not been great, not even to my standards. So you’ve just got to stick with the program. Never been reactive in terms of tough shooting nights or whatever. Same process, just understand the big picture of what we’re trying to do and what I’m trying to do, and then it’ll come around.”
Curry said most of his shots on Wednesday felt like they were going to drop in, unlike his nine-point performance against Miami when he felt off the entire game. Kerr added several shots against Dallas went in-and-out, just grazing the front rim and popping off the back iron.
“I set the bar really high, and I want to keep doing that,” Curry said. “Never let my standard slip. So when it’s a night like tonight or how it has been for a little while, just stick with the work and the work will show.”
Against the Mavericks, Curry went 1-for-9 from behind the arc, with his only 3-pointer coming off a step-back nine seconds into the second half. As a team, the Warriors made a season-low five 3-pointers.
Curry also struggled inside, missing some bunnies and some contested shots. The Mavericks defended him physically, and he looked visibly frustrated with the lack of foul calls several times after driving to the hoop.
It’s possible Curry was pressing at times, Kerr said. One first-half miss was an awkward push-shot from about six feet away when it looked like he had some space to inch closer to the rim. Late in the fourth, he opted against taking a wide open layup, instead spraying a kickout pass into the stands. He said postgame that the game’s situation, with Golden State needing momentum, determined his decision.
Curry also played much of Wednesday’s game with a knee bruise, something that may keep him out of Thursday’s game in New Orleans. But he still had open looks that he normally makes.
On the year, Curry is getting an outstanding amount of good looks within Golden State’s offense. Nearly half (48%) of his shots have been open or wide open 3-pointers, per NBA.com tracking. But he’s hitting just 34.2% of those open looks and 42.7% of wide open 3s — extremely low for the greatest shooter ever. His 39.3% clip from 3 entering Wednesday would be his lowest in a full season ever.
Forward Draymond Green, the all-time leader in assists passed to Curry, said Golden State could try to get him off the ball more. Especially in the fourth quarter, Curry tried to attack mismatches, namely forward Maxi Kleiber, off the dribble. But in those situations, the entire Dallas defense had their eyes on him.
Kerr said defenses have been especially locked into Curry this year, consistently sending double-teams and focusing their schemes around slowing down the guard. That’s nothing new, though. Especially last year, when it often felt like Curry was Golden State’s only offensive option, he frequently drew the attention of five defenders.
Curry has seen every defensive strategy throughout his 13-year career. None have bothered him this much, in his words, ever.
“Usually there’s mechanics or something I can focus on,” Curry said. Now it’s just dealing with defenses, dealing with shots that I’m going to get and staying confident. So I don’t want to harp on it too much, because I’m not worried at all.”