Stephen Curry has realised something as the Golden State Warriors embark on their first true title defence in nearly three years: he’s getting old.
“When I look at some of those guys, you’re reminded of how young they are,” Curry said as the Warriors prepared for the Mavericks’ arrival in San Francisco. “Jayson Tatum is 24. Luka [Doncic] is 23. Ja [Morant] was 22. That’s the only part where you’re just like, ‘Hell, they’re really that young.’ You’re thinking about what you were doing at that age, trying to come into this scene and [play] playoff basketball.”
The NBA has traditionally been a gerontocracy, a league dominated by venerable veterans who educate and often tease upstarts before abandoning the spotlight. Few NBA stars have lifted a championship trophy until their early thirties in recent decades, and not without a lot of help. Doncic wants to accelerate his career at the expense of Curry, America’s longtime beloved younger brother, who has advanced to elder statesman status at the age of 34.
The Warriors’ 112-87 Game 1 beating of the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center on Wednesday night served as a timely reminder that titles remain the best source of inspiration in the NBA. Curry displayed the poise and ease of a seasoned player entirely at ease, despite being defended by the Mavericks’ toughest defensive guard in Reggie Bullock, occasionally blitzed by a second defender, targeted in Doncic’s pick-and-roll attack, and uncharacteristically inaccurate from the free throw line. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he topped all players in points (21), rebounds (12), and assists (four, tied with four others) in Game 1 of these Western Conference playoffs, marking the first time in his playoff career that he has done so in all three categories.
Curry and the Warriors did not put on their most artistic display of their typical style in this victory. They were rushed in the beginning, and just a few classic footage of their distinctive split cut were available for the vault. However, there were plenty of times when the Warriors showed the telepathy that comes with consistency, as as when Green’s assist defence erased a high-percentage Dallas shot attempt or Curry avoided trouble because to a Kevon Looney pindown. Against a Mavericks club that prefers to let Doncic pick apart possessions in the half court, the Warriors spent much of the game in transition. The Warriors made things difficult for Doncic in his first conference finals appearance thanks to Andrew Wiggins’ tenacious defence.
The series opening was also a statement about Golden State’s influence on the themes that will define NBA basketball in 2022. The Warriors defeated a Dallas team that tried 19 more shots from outside the arc than they did from inside the arc and used a 5-out plan for much of the game to optimise spacing, a strategy that the Warriors mastered during their dynasty run. Meanwhile, the Warriors leaned on a lanky big with limited range to help with interior defence and rebounding, and they attempted twice as many long midrange jumpers as they did at the rim.
Golden State looked positively Jurassic — and utterly effective — for a team that transformed the league in the 2010s.
“Teams kind of run us off the 3-point line,” Thompson said. “This time of year — [coach] Steve [Kerr] always harps on it — that midrange jump is going to be there. Andrew, Steph and I, [Jordan Poole], it was really working for us tonight.”
Even the most fervent idealists are known to embrace pragmatism in their later years. During their rise to prominence, the Warriors defied conventional NBA basketball rules, revised a few, and established some new ones. Despite three years in the wilderness, the club has adopted a blend of Warriors knowledge and practical magic after suffering injuries and losing important contributors.
The Warriors understand that, while Dallas may not be able to match its blistering shooting against the Phoenix Suns last week, the Mavs are unlikely to miss more than three-quarters of their long-range efforts in this series.
Curry, who graduated from Davidson College this weekend, appears enthralled by the fact that he is both mentor and rival to a new generation of NBA talents. Curry, a late bloomer, praised Morant’s body of effort and leadership during the Warriors’ conference semifinal series victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry also admitted that defending the Grizzlies’ young prodigy will be difficult in the future.
Be that as it may, mature additionally insists self-assurance. It lets a person know who has won three rings, two MVP grants and fundamentally impacted the manner in which the NBA plays b-ball that he can pay attention to his gut feelings come what may. Progress in years additionally is an update for Curry that the clock is ticking.
“I’m not trying to claim the ‘old guy’ tag,” Curry said prior to Game 1. “But we’re as hungry as they are to get it done.”
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