Steph Curry, Jordan Poole give Warriors embarrassment of playoff riches

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Steph, JP give Dubs embarrassment of playoff scoring riches originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – When the time comes, as surely it will, for Warriors coach Steve Kerr to return Jordan Poole to the role of Sixth Man, it will be much easier for the dynamic young guard to embrace than it was only a few months ago.

Has to be, for the man Poole will be replacing as the team’s first reserve is Stephen Curry, eight-time All-Star, three-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP and conceivably the most selfless leader in the 131-year history of basketball.

Curry will have proved that no one on this roster fully on board with the franchise goal of winning a championship is above the Sixth Man role – as if Andre Iguodala and his 2015 NBA Finals MVP trophy had not already proved that.

If a Sixth Man can come off the bench for the second consecutive game, as Curry did Monday night, and lead the team in scoring, as he did in a 126-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets, there is no boundary, and not the slightest hint of demotion or stigma.

“Steph is Steph,” Kerr said. “You don't need to sell him on anything. He's very unique. He's incredibly humble and incredibly arrogant on the floor. Humble off the floor, arrogant on the floor. It's a great combination. Anything that is going to help the team, he's all for.”

It has become abundantly evident that Curry and Poole – who replaced Steph in the starting line over the last month of the regular season – are in many ways interchangeable within the scope of the Warriors’ offense. Both are combo guards, capable of scoring in bunches, with enough trickery in their offensive games to cross the eyes and wires of any defense.

Curry and Poole dazzled Denver, combining for 63 points as the Warriors blasted their way to a 2-0 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series. Add Klay Thompson as a sniper on the wing, and it can be overwhelming.

“You have three guys that are capable of putting up 30, 40 points,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Jordan Poole had 30 points in Game 1, he had 29 tonight. Steph Curry is the greatest Sixth Man ever in the Playoffs. They bring a guy off the bench like that, 34 points, five threes . . . and then Klay Thompson.”

Pointing out the many roles of his teammates, and their versatility, Curry believes it places severe stress on those trying to deal with them.

“It's hard to game plan against because you have to give up something,” Curry said. “There's just a lot of options. And for teams to make those decisions on the fly, it's difficult especially when we are playing fast.

“It helps, not that we don't take turns, but you can put (Poole) in a pick-and-roll, me and Klay with space in the corner, there can be secondary and third options if they want to trap him. Or guys stay home (on us) and he has all the room in the world to make plays.”

Curry, his playing time still limited as he shakes off rust and gathers timing after missing one month, put in a game-high 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-10 from distance, over a scant 23 minutes. He was an astonishing plus-32. His 11 points in six second-quarter minutes, during which the Warriors outscored Denver 22-8, brought the hammer to the festivities.

Poole grabbed the thing and swung it in the third quarter, scoring 13 of his 29 points in a sizzling eight-minute span, as the Warriors outscored Denver 44-30 to push their six-point halftime advantage to 20 at the end of three quarters.

Others contributed plenty, from Thompson’s 21 points to Draymond Green acting as conductor at both ends to Andrew Wiggins’ contributing 13 points and eight rebounds while assisting Green in keeping the defense tight.

But this was mostly a Curry-Poole Production, with Thompson in the role of sniper.

Three guards, with Curry and Poole being very similar, fitting into two starting slots. It’s an excess of riches.

“Ultimately, we have to have Steph Curry in the lineup,” Green said. “So, you know, that's one thing. We're not trying to keep Steph in the Sixth-Man role. Forget that.

“Now, in saying that, ultimately, Jordan probably going to have to start, too . . .. At some point, I'm sure they are both going to be starting together. But I won't be the one to cause myself that headache. Steve can figure that one out.”

RELATED: Klay calls Poole a "baby Steph Curry" in new lineup

There is little doubt that Poole and Curry will start together. But not in this series and probably not this postseason. That’s a someday visual and it might have wait until next season.

Meanwhile, both have the goods to punish defenses. When Curry replaces Poole in the starting lineup, there won’t be much change team’s offense, just as there wasn’t when Poole replaced Curry. Except now they can play with and off each other.

Anyone who might have missed tipoff wouldn’t know who started the game, because if there is any doubt, both will be there at the finish.

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