OAKLAND – The Warriors lately have hit a slight dip, but you’d have to look very closely and very hard to see it.
Indeed, you’d have to peek inside the winning to see Stephen Curry is in a slump.
Granted, a Steph slump is not a typical slump. A Steph slump applies exclusively to the reigning MVP. Most anyone else in the NBA would happily take the numbers Curry has posted in recent weeks.
Curry, however, will accept those numbers partly because he realizes what’s behind the decline and largely because he knows they won’t last.
“We’re winning, and I’m trying to control the game from a decision-making standpoint,” Curry told CSNBayArea.com on Sunday. “It’ll balance itself out.”
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Curry remains the NBA’s top scorer, averaging 30.8 points per game, but earlier this month he was well above 32. He dropped below that on Dec. 18, and dropped below 31 when he scored 19 points in an 89-83 win over the Cavaliers on Christmas Day.
That was the first time this season that Curry scored fewer than 20 points in consecutive games, as he scored 16 last Wednesday in a win over Utah.
“I’m thankful that this is a new situation for me, and that my numbers being down are still where they are right now,” Curry said. “I’m OK with that.”
The most startling aspect of Curry’s statistical drop is that his 3-point accuracy is in the midst of an appreciable slide. He’s 9-of-32 from deep over the past five games for 28.1 percent, “dropping” him to sixth in the league, at 44.5 percent.
Interim Warriors coach Luke Walton has noticed the trend and cites a number of factors, most notably the way opposing defenses have stepped up their “Stop Steph” campaign.
“Teams are holding, grabbing him,” Walton said. “In my opinion those are fouls. It’s definitely a way to guard him."
“We’ve got to get him off the ball, space the floor, let it be seen when he’s getting held. And then run him off screens. Stuff that we’ve done before. This is just one of the different ways teams try to guard him. We’ve practiced against this before and we know what we have to do, so we’ll continue to work on that.”
Curry’s diminished accuracy and reduced scoring output have not attracted a great deal of attention, perhaps because it has been lost beneath the endless pregame hype for the Christmas Day game against Cleveland, the extended absence of Harrison Barnes and the increasing optimism related to Steve Kerr’s return.
All of that, plus a 28-1 record has been enough to eclipse what has been a relatively quiet three weeks for Curry.
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Then, too, Curry has done an admirable job of concealing his frustrations, something that goes back to his days as a star at Davidson College under coach Bob McKillop
“You really don’t want to show emotions . . . maybe not emotions but frustrations,” Curry said. “You don’t want to show your frustrations through your body language. For one thing, it can be contagious to the rest of the team. Also, you want to try to keep that optimistic mindset. Always believe that the next shot is going in and you’re waiting for that opportunity.
“It is frustrating, and it is something that you actually have to purposely control. When you’re so competitive, and you don’t live up to your own expectations, it’s kind of hard to keep that vibe.”
It’s at least a little bit easier to stay positive when past performance suggests even the slightest regression is only temporary.