Warriors are bound to struggle as long as Steph Curry is 'human'

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As long as Curry is 'human,' Warriors are bound to struggle originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – The wait for Stephen Curry to shoot like the Stephen Curry we’ve all come to know, now deep into its second month, has the Warriors unable to bridge the gap between the team they have become and the one they want to be.

On Sunday, for the 11th time in 12 games, they only occasionally resembled their best selves. With the offense sputtering, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter, it took superb defense over the final three minutes to avoid the heartache of blowing a 13-point lead.

The resultant 94-92 win over a wounded Utah Jazz squad was a matter of getting just enough offense, from just enough players, on another night when Curry’s most celebrated skill rarely surfaced.

“He’s human,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s human. And what’s happening right now is he’s reminding everybody that he actually is human. He has seemed inhuman for so long. Everybody just expects him to be in a groove all season long, and it’s just not the way he works.”

Curry finished with 13 points, on 5-of-20 shooting, including 1-of-13 from deep. The buzzer-beating step-back jumper Curry drained to beat the Rockets was not a turning point in his search for his usual self.

The most stunning aspect within the numbers is that so many misses were on kind of open 3-pointers he usually drains like layups. The sellout crowd at Chase Center is holding its breath every time Curry shoots, hoping the next one goes down and puts this slump – and the Warriors’ offense – out of its misery.

“Every shot I take, I think I’m going to make,” Curry said. “And unless it’s way off or there’s something off-balance . . . it’s a surprise when (I) don’t make it.

“Tonight, I probably would only nitpick the last three (shots) I took. I took 12 good shots for me and I’m not worried about the selection as much as just figuring out what needs to change in terms of knocking them down and finding the joy in just shooting the ball. That’s always been a part of my game, so I’ve got to be better at that.”

Curry shot 40.4 percent from the field, including 37.4 percent beyond the arc in December. He’s shooting 37.1/32.7 through 11 games in January. It’s the longest substandard stretch of his 13-year NBA career.

It’s not by coincidence that the Warriors have had trouble finding offense. After posting a 112.4 offensive rating (No. 2 in the league) during the first six weeks, the Warriors were 18th (110.5) in December and are 28th (106.4) so far in January.

The cold fact about the Warriors is this: No matter how everyone else plays, they fly only as high as Steph. As long as his icy stretch goes, they can be good but have no chance of being great. Their chance of winning any game is roughly the same as of losing any game.

They can well enough to beat the Pistons and the Rockets, and they can play so poorly they get spanked by a threadbare Pacers roster.

With Curry so far off his game, Golden State’s margin of error is invisible.

“He’s our main shot creator, whether he’s shooting the ball or passing the ball,” Kerr said. “He’s the guy who’s forcing the defense to bend and respond. All you can do in any offense is try to draw two people and move the ball and get an open look. We’re not a team that gets to the free throw line a lot. We’re not a one-on-one team. We don’t break people down off the dribble. We have to move the ball.”

Curry, fully aware that Draymond Green’s absence dramatically alters the team’s offensive dynamic, is playing very well in almost every other facet. He has been particularly good as what might be defined as a “pure” point guard, posting 34 assists, with six turnovers over his last four games.

“The temptation is to let missed shots affect all of that as a reaction because you’re preoccupied or you’re in your feelings about missing shots,” Curry said. “I’m past that phase of my career. It’s just a matter of not ever losing confidence in what I’m capable of doing.”

Asked about the various physical issues, with both hands taking hits, one causing him to miss the Jan. 16 game at Minnesota, Curry was having none of it.

“Who gives a damn about excuses,” he said. “You either make shots or miss shots. I’ve got to start making shots.”

RELATED: Two wild stats highlight Steph's shooting struggles vs. Jazz

The Warriors entered December as the team they want to be, with an 18-3 record.

They have since gone 16-10, including 7-6 in January. That’s the team they have become. And the team they’ll be until Steph finds his game. History says he will.

Meanwhile, everything the Warriors do, win or lose, will come with at least a touch of agony.