HOUSTON -– Stephen Curry walked into Tudor Fieldhouse on the Rice University campus Sunday morning wearing a navy blue cap pulled backward, black headphones and an expression of serenity.
The Warriors would be practicing in a few minutes, only 15 hours after the point guard scored 40 points to lead a 115-80 rout that shoved the Houston Rockets to the edge of postseason elimination.
Curry was ready for more, or for less. Ready for anything, just as he had been Saturday night.
“It feels normal,” he said after tossing aside the cap and lowering the headphones to wrap around his neck. “I feel comfortable. I feel ready for the moment and able to kind of block out the extracurricular stuff that could distract you from the focus on the court. I’m pretty content on where we are and just hungry to keep getting better and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Curry had been the star of the previous night, highly productive and casually spectacular in the process. He left his teammates marveling, the Rockets gasping and their fans in despair.
He dropped in seven 3-pointers, setting a record for treys in a single postseason, with 64. His astonishing one-handed rebound with his back to the navel of 6-foot-11 Rockets center Dwight Howard was played and replayed on multiple highlight shows. He splashed water on the few remaining embers to the Curry-Harden MVP discussion. Curry even, after drilling one of his 3-pointers, silenced a noisy fan.
Curry was on a roll for most of the regular season and he’s on one now that seems to be getting bigger and shinier as the magnitude grows. He admitted as much.
“Yeah, because the moment is bigger, and any time you play well in games that matter, big time moments, it means a lot more,” he said. “I’m just trying to be as consistent as I've been is the most important thing for me. Not putting up crazy numbers, but consistently trying to help the team win is the biggest thing for me.”
What Curry has done in this series is make it his own. The Warriors this season are 7-0 against Houston, largely because of Curry. The Rockets have tried a variety of defenders -– pesky Patrick Beverley, their best perimeter defender, is out –- and none has been effective.
Desperate teams, however, resort to desperate measures. Veteran guard Jason Terry implied Sunday that the Rockets won’t go down without a ferocious struggle.
“Oh, what he's done all series, I'm taking it personal,” he said of Curry. “With that said, I have to have controlled aggression playing defense on him. I'll see what happens, but that passive, lay-back-and-wait-for-him-to-do-whatever-he-wants-to-do, that's over with.”
Houston coach Kevin McHale might be surprised to hear that was Terry’s approach. Or at least the approach Terry claims to have previously taken.
Curry, too, might be surprised to hear that.
But he won’t be surprised by anything that comes his way in Game 4. He knows it could get rough, but it’s nothing he has seen in any of the previous elimination games over the past three seasons.