HOUSTON — What’s wrong with Stephen Curry?
Nothing, Curry says.
Nothing, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.
Nothing, teammate Klay Thompson says.
Something, the stat sheet insists. Curry scored 16 points in Game 2 of the Western Conference championship series — not a trifling total — as the Warriors fell to the Houston Rockets, 127-105. But he was just 1 of 8 on his 3-point attempts. That’s like you or I going 1 for 147. Curry’s inaccuracy wouldn’t ring even a small alarm bell, except that he was 1 for 5 from the arc in Game 1.
Even the greatest pure shooter in basketball history is entitled to an off night. But two in a row? In the biggest series of the NBA season? Something isn’t adding up, and it’s Curry’s 3-point column.
Simply put, when it comes to 3-point shooting, the skill that has defined him, these were the worst consecutive postseason games in Curry’s NBA career. He hit 3 of 15 (20 percent) against the Clippers in the Warriors’ final two games of the 2013 playoffs, before he was STEPH CURRY in all-caps. He hit 4 of 21 (19 percent) in back-to-back games against Memphis in the 2015 second round, and again against Cleveland in the NBA Finals that year. He hit 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) against the Thunder in 2016 and 4 of 18 (22.2 percent) in the last two games of the 2017 NBA Finals, though no one really noticed because Kevin Durant was closing out the Cavaliers for the title.
So Curry has turned in consecutive clunkers before. But 2 of 13 is 15.4 percent, his all-time low.
How are you feeling, I asked the two-time MVP after the game, as he sat before the cameras on a dais next to the media workroom at the Toyota Center.
“I’m feeling great,” Curry said. “Tonight I didn’t find a rhythm early. I had some decent looks early from three that could have changed the momentum of the game early in the first half. But for the most part it was just a frustrating night all around.”
Curry flashed some of that boyish smile as he answered. He didn’t seem at all frustrated, or confused, or irritated. And maybe he is feeling none of those things. But suddenly there is reason for concern.
For the Warriors, the concern is that they have opened a window for the hungry Rockets. Golden State was prone to sleepwalking during the 2017-18 regular season, and had a couple of those somnambulant games in the playoffs — one each against the Spurs and Pelicans. But that was natural, because the Warriors were never really in danger against those second-tier teams.
The Rockets are different. They are the one NBA team that presents a true threat to defending champions. And with a sloppy game that included some halfhearted defense and seven turnovers in the first quarter, the Warriors have given Houston hope.
For Curry, the concern is that his left knee, or his conditioning, or both, aren’t exactly where they should be in the West final. He missed more than a month of action after spraining his MCL on March 23. When he returned for Game 2 of the second-round series against New Orleans, Curry quickly quieted the talk about his injury.