‘Like Joe Montana in the huddle,' Steph Curry's value goes way beyond the stats


OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry’s greatest value to the Warriors goes beyond the spectacular scoring outbursts and mesmerizing ball-handling and well-timed shimmies, beyond the back-to-back MVP awards and the two NBA championships.

Those are visible and tangible and significant, yet Curry’s most essential gift to the NBA’s elite franchise is his poise, his calm in the midst of chaos. It cools the room for everybody, coaches, teammates, trainers and so on.

The most recent example came Monday night in the second quarter of Game 7 against the Rockets in Houston.

The Warriors were performing atrociously, and then a Draymond Green turnover led to a James Harden dunk that left them trailing by 15 with 4:54 remaining in the half. Warriors coach Steve Kerr, disgusted by what he been seeing, called his second timeout in less than four minutes.

“That timeout was a little chaotic,” Kerr recalled Wednesday, on the eve of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I think we were frustrated. We were all frustrated at that point.”

Green was irate; that was his fourth turnover of the half. Kevin Durant, for whom the stolen pass was intended, was smoldering. Klay Thompson, who committed three fouls in the first four minutes, was simmering. Shaun Livingston, generally placid, was unnerved.

As everyone approached the bench, the Warriors needed nothing more than a generous sprinkle of cool. Curry delivered.

“He’s got that calming influence,” general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He embodies this equanimity. He’s just very peaceful of mind. He’s like Joe Montana in the huddle. Everything is crazy around you, and it’s 3rd-and-20, and he goes (lowers his voice), ‘We’re gonna get a first down.’ ”

It was a point at which the team “could have splintered,” according to Curry -- and pretty much everybody else in the huddle.

“We were splintered, for sure,” Kerr said.

“There was definitely a moment there,” Green said.

“We came out the huddle as one,” Durant said. “We might have walked into it separately, but we came out as one.

“That was a huge moment for us as a group going forward. Not just that night, but as a group going forward so we could look back on it and realize that we can pretty much get through anything if we talk it out, communicate, and realize that the goal is just to win.”

After trimming the deficit to 11 before halftime, the Warriors opened the second half with a 21-7 blitz to take a 64-61 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

They never trailed again.

“Our second half was obviously much better,” Kerr said. “Our guys came together. But, yeah, it was a little chaotic during that huddle.”

The Warriors outscored Houston 58-38 in the second half. They shot 53.7 percent overall, 55.6 percent from deep, while holding the Rockets to 37.5 percent and 4.8 percent. Durant scored 21 of his 34 points and blocked two shots. Curry scored 19 of his 27 and also grabbed seven rebounds. In 22 second-half minutes, Green committed only one turnover while snagging nine rebounds.

It was the same team, but with a much more unified and constructive attitude than the one that trailed by 15 points in the first half.

“It was just everyone,” Green said, “from Steph getting up in the huddle saying, ‘Stick together,’ to Klay talking, Andre (Iguodala) got in the huddle and was talking. Kevin started yelling. You had everybody in there. And everybody was pretty much yelling the same thing.

“Once everyone calmed down, everyone realized that we were all yelling the same thing and we were kind of able to rally it together and go out there.”

Kerr often points out similarities between one of his former teammates, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, and Curry. As leaders, they’re quietly effective. They are that way partly because their talent commands respect but also because there is an air of maturity about an even-tempered individual.

“It was kind of do-or-die with our season on the line,” Curry said. “It was a special moment for us, and I think one that we'll look back, if we get the job done over these next two weeks, where, again, as an appreciation of all that goes into winning a championship and doing it by committee and making sure every guy, whether you're playing well or not, or things are going your way or not, that we all bring something to the fold that have gotten us to four straight Finals.”

On a team with so many personalities and egos -- and everybody has one -- Curry never lets his get in the way. His hubris on the court betrays his discretion elsewhere. If not for that, the Warriors wouldn’t be where they are, no matter what how impressive his statistics might be.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Oakland -- Thursday, May 31 at 6pm
Game 2 Oakland -- Sunday, June 3 at 5pm
Game 3 Cleveland -- Wednesday, June 6 at 6pm
Game 4 Cleveland -- Friday, June 8 at 6pm
Game 5 Oakland -- Monday, June 11 at 6pm
Game 6 Cleveland -- Thursday, June 14 at 6pm
Game 7 Oakland -- Sunday, June 17 at 5pm
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