The photo really says it all about how opposing teams view Warriors star Stephen Curry. On Tuesday night against the Suns, Curry was met with an initial defender, guard Devin Booker, a little more than 30 feet from the basket. But behind Booker stood Suns point guard Chris Paul.
And center DeAndre Ayton.
And forward Mikal Bridges.
Yes, despite standing just inside the halfcourt logo, Curry was facing a quadruple team, as pointed out by Matt Ashlock, a producer for 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. Ashlock posted the viral photo on Twitter, with the caption, “This is a real image from a real basketball game.”
This is a real image from a real basketball game pic.twitter.com/KHcg4kQWgW
— Matt Ashlock | ashlock.eth ♢ (@matt_ashlock) May 12, 2021
The defensive attention on Curry was effective for the Suns, at least if the goal was to throw Curry off his game. Curry had averaged 37.2 points in his last 22 games before facing the Suns, and Phoenix was able to hold him down to 21 points on a very poor 7-for-22 shooting, including 1-for-11 from the 3-point line.
But there was a catch: Despite Curry’s struggles, the Warriors won the game, the rest of the GSWs combining to shoot 54.8% from the field as Golden State won its fourth straight game.
Andrew Wiggins Steps Up Yet Again
The problem for the Suns on Tuesday was that, after generally doing a good job containing Curry with its initial defense, the team was left to scramble too much and yielded too many open looks for other players.
“You gotta anticipate the next thing,” Paul told reporters after the game. “It’s tough with them. It’s a lot of movement. Steph doing a lot of running around and it puts a lot of pressure on your defense. Requires a lot of talking and stuff so it’s a good test for us. We gotta get better at it.”
The main beneficiary of the Suns’ attention to Curry was forward Andrew Wiggins, who had struggled (6-for-19 shooting, 1-for-5 from the 3-point line) in the win over Utah on Monday. Wiggins came back with a vengeance, scoring 38 points on 17-for-24 shooting. Wiggins was big when it mattered most, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter to lead a Warriors comeback.
“They were up 16, I think, in the first half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Obviously, they were doing a great job on Steph, but we hung in there, kept moving the ball, trusted each other, and made great plays down the stretch.”
It was only the second time this season Wiggins topped 30 points for the Warriors, having scored 40 on March 19 vs. the Grizzlies. Curry offered some online praise for Wiggins after the game:
Let them know @22wiggins 🙌🏽 https://t.co/JcigH3eJEc
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) May 12, 2021
Warriors Fighting to Hold Eighth in the West Standings
Wiggins, a frequent subject of trade chatter among the Warriors faithful, has hit his stride here in the late part of this season. In his last eight games, Wiggins is averaging 23.4 points on 53.0% shooting. That’s well above his season average of 18.6 points on 47.6% shooting.
“I came out trying to be aggressive,” Wiggins said. “I feel like that’s what everyone wants me to do and that’s what I’m trying to do on both sides of the floor.”
That has been useful, with the Warriors clinging to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the Grizzlies. If the Warriors can hold onto eighth, they will be eligible to claim the No. 7 seed in the West by simply winning one play-in game against the seventh-place team.
The Warriors have the Pelicans on Friday and will face the Grizzlies, in what could be a very important game, in the season finale on Sunday.