Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors (35-23) travel to Madison Square Garden Friday night to take on the dysfunctional New York Knicks (21-37). It will be exactly one year and one day since the last time the Warriors were in New York and the then-recently-All-Star-snubbed Stephen Curry turned into a superstar and put on a show on the biggest stage in the NBA.
Curry scored 54 points, connecting on 11 of his 13 three-point attempts in an overtime loss to the Knicks. Curry, at the time, was coming off of a 38 point game the night before in Indiana and scored a combined 92 points in back-to-back games on 18-23 shooting from beyond the arc, all in all simply astonishing numbers.
But things are much different this time around. Curry and the Warriors are coming off of a dismal outing in Chicago in which the Bulls’ smothering defense held them to just 83 points. Curry himself was held to a minuscule five points on 2-1o shooting. The Bulls’ game plan was to simply stop Curry. No matter where he was on the court, there were multiple Bulls harassing him – and it worked.
The Knicks, however, find themselves much worse off than the Warriors considering the dismal season they’re currently having as well as all of the Raymond Felton drama. New York will also be coming off of a back-to-back in which they were ran out of the building by a masked LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Thursday night in South Beach.
Golden State must thrive on this opportunity and put their foot on the pedal from the opening tip. Winners of four in a row before their cold-as-ice trip to Chicago, they need to get right back on the winning path and continue their quest for their second playoff appearance in as many years. In a tight Western Conference in which nine solid teams are battling for eight playoff spots, there is no room for error.
The opportunity for Curry to put on another show at Madison Square Garden will be there for the first time All-Star. The Knicks’ recent loss of Iman Shumpert, their best perimeter defender, to a sprained MCL, doesn’t leave much more than a warm body to guard the sharpshooter. This is not good news for New York. Then again, what else is new?
But Stephen Curry can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a full team effort, especially on the defensive end, to get Curry going. The Warriors play tremendously when defending well and getting out into transition. Curry is lethal when he’s able to push the ball because of his ability to hit the transition three. He’s hit 184 triples on 42 percent shooting this season.
The Knicks are the ideal team for the Warriors to shine against considering the Knicks offense consists of isolations that lead to long, forced jump shots and even longer rebounds. New York shot just 37 percent from the field and 17 percent from beyond the arc against Miami on Thursday night. They are shooting just 45 percent on the year, which is 19th in the league overall.
If the Warriors want to make another rare playoff appearance, they must knuckle down and win games against beatable teams. Friday night, in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, is one of those games. Look for the next act of the Stephen Curry show.
Editorial by Rich Peters
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