Monday, February 29, 2016

Breaking the Game

Watched that Golden State Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder game on Saturday night, the one in which Stephen Curry capped off a truly jaw-dropping week by draining a game-winning jumper from 32 feet (or so) for a record-tying 12th three-pointer of the game. Take a look:

I’ve already written here once this season about Curry and the Warriors. I freely admit I’m kind of fascinated by both the player and the team (now 53-5 and a genuine threat to break the ’95-’96 Bulls record of 72 wins in a season), as well as this idea that they’re somehow “breaking” the game with their unprecedented efficiency.

Curry made 12 of 16 three-pointers on Saturday, scoring 46. That was two nights after getting 51 against Orlando via 10 three-pointers, 10 two-pointers, and a free throw. The night before that he scored 42 (with “just” six threes) and back on Monday he scored 36 (with five from beyond the arc).

You might’ve heard some of these crazy percentages Curry has been shooting from especially long range. I’d seen one stat prior to the OKC game that he was 35-of-52 on shots between 28 and 50 feet (the range from which he fired up Saturday’s game winner). No shinola.

If a player shot 52 lay-ups and made them all, that’d be 104 points. Curry meanwhile had scored 105 points shooting 52 shots from 28-50 feet.

I used to play a lot of pickup ball. I remember once getting into a series of games with a dude who would frequently launch shots from 30 feet or so, hitting just enough of them to keep his teammates from getting too angry about him doing so.

It was a little disruptive, in a way, causing not just his team but the defense also to play differently in expectation of the long one going up yet again. Rather than chase our guy around in a standard man-to-man, we essentially had to start blocking out as soon as the dude crossed midcourt. Makes me think a little of what occasionally will happen in microstakes games online when a crazy raiser gets bored and starts shoving every single hand, necessarily changing the game for everyone.

But these latter examples of the pickup game pooh-bah and the maniac at the micros only partly parallel Curry, who can also very ably make his way inside that 28-foot arc where everyone else is and play it “straight.”

I guess that’s what makes what Curry is doing even more remarkable to watch -- the fact that he doesn’t have to make shots from 32 feet to be the best player on the floor, but he can do that, too.

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