Golden State Warriors gathered for the morning shootaround on Monday, Steve Kerr stopped his superstar for a 10-minute conversation. In a most blessed and blissful year, struggle had never found traction with Stephen Curry. The shots suddenly stopped falling in these Western Conference semifinals, and the coach of these Warriors hadn't wanted to clutter Curry's mind – only to deliver one overriding message.MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Before the
Resist trying to do it yourself, Steph. Give the ball up, get it back and watch how the rhythm of it all transforms those misses into makes again.
"I never worry about his confidence," Kerr told Yahoo Sports late Monday. "I don't worry about anything with him. I just feel like there are times that he wants so badly to win, he tries to do too much.
"He's still learning. That sounds crazy, because he's the MVP of the league. But he's still learning how to develop that rhythm, how to be patient and just move the ball, makes the easy pass – instead of trying to do it himself. That way, he's much more likely to get hot in the game."
This is why Kerr could be seen clenching his fist in telltale moments at FedEx Forum on Monday, watching the basketball move again, watching Curry get his shots in the flow of that gorgeous Golden State offense. No more air balls, no more wayward jumpers that had suddenly made everything feel so vulnerable about the NBA's best team.
Curry had 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the 101-84 Game 4 victory. The series is tied 2-2 and returning to Oracle for Game 5 on Wednesday. Curry had patience and the trust of his teammates. The passes popped, and Curry had his way with these Grizzlies. Kerr had been so right: Slow down, Steph, and less will forever be more.
In so many ways, Kerr has been perfect for Curry. He's held him to higher standards, pushed him to be sharper, streamlined and to pursue efficiency. Kerr won over Curry with preparation and purpose, leaving behind a failed coaching regime of empty rah-rahs and guilt-tripping.
Kerr has challenged Curry to be a defensive player, refusing to hide him. Most of all, Kerr has delivered Curry a genuine NBA offense – movement and misdirections. Before there was no structure, mostly isolation plays after isolation plays. As the Warriors' season teetered on Monday, Golden State rediscovered itself with hard-driving defense, resolved rebounding and the gift of the MVP's peerless shooting.
This series promises to be vital for the growth of this Golden State franchise, a resolved and relentless Grizzlies core challenging the Warriors to be tougher and together.
As always, it started with Stephen Curry, the NBA's Most Valuable Player. Curry is the biggest bargain in the NBA, making $10.6 million this season. His Under Armour deal is far lower, but it's possible that could be torn up and renegotiated at a market level this year, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
There's forever a calm to Curry, an assurance, and he always finds his center again. He had been uncharacteristically rushed and ragged in Games 2 and 3. The Grizzlies' defense played a part, but truth be told, he missed shots that he often makes. He needed to find his way back, and that path turned out to be the one Steve Kerr had promised on Monday morning. The NBA's MVP didn't need to go chasing shots, because these Warriors would find him in the flow of that system. Slowly, surely, Stephen Curry had shot these Warriors back into the series, back into control.
"He has as much self-belief as anybody I've ever seen," Kerr told Yahoo Sports. "He's still learning about the rhythm it takes. It's not an easy concept for a guy who is so talented and relied upon so heavily. That's all part of the growth, the process and tonight he got that, stayed with it and executed it."
For 10 minutes, the coach of these Golden State Warriors cornered his superstar on Monday morning and spared the cluttering of a beautiful basketball mind. Kerr kept it simple, and Curry was a most willing subject. The passes popped, and as promised, he had found his shot again. The MVP was back, and the Warriors untouchable. His shots dropped again and again, and, finally, a most unfamiliar companion – struggle – had lost its traction on Stephen Curry.