Warriors' biggest issue is not Steph Curry's shooting woes


OAKLAND -- It’s Day 3 of the public symposium on the topic of Stephen Curry. Every man, woman, child and pet as a voice. The subjects being discussed are his health, his defense, his shooting and, of course, his newest signature shoe.

The Rockets may secretly wish the Warriors would participate and spend all four days between Games 2 and 3 placing Priority One emphasis on all things Steph.

That’s not happening. The Warriors know the “Curry problem” is a red herring that, like cheese to rats, never fails to attract. If Curry isn’t torching opponents at a crazy rate, it’s time to slide his game under the microscope and analyze it while waiting for the Real Steph to emerge.

The more legitimate problem for the Warriors is their defense, the salient question being whether it was exclusively a Game 2 problem or one that will haunt them for the duration of these Western Conference Finals.

If it stays with them, and PJ Tucker is launching wide-open 3-balls from the corners, they’re done. Houston is built to destroy teams that play sloppy defense.

If the Warriors solve the issue and defend as they did in Game 1, they win the series -- even if Curry isn’t dropping 30 a game, shooting 50 percent from deep.

Some of the Warriors’ defensive woes were directly related to their carelessness with the ball. Houston doesn’t rely on its transition game -- managing only 3 fast-break points in Game 1 -- but was happy to sprint away with freebies donated in Game 2. With the Warriors committing seven turnovers in the first quarter, the Rockets scored 7 points off the break.

For the most part, though, the Rockets were there to be defended. The Warriors spent much of Friday watching the Game 2 video and came away aghast at some of their defensive failures.

“We got broken down defensively, way too often on the ball,” coach Steve Kerr said after reviewing video of Game 2. “Our on-ball defense was bad. That’s why Tucker got all six of his 3s from the corner. We’ve got to defend the ball better.

“Six wide-open 3s, all from the corner? He didn’t create those. The other guys created them for him. And that’s his role. He was one of the best corner 3-point shooters in the league this year. It’s what he does. They broke our defense down that led to that. So it’s the point-of-attack defense that’s most important.”

After scoring 1 point in Game 1, when Rockets not named James Harden shot 41 percent, Tucker poured in 22 in Game 2 -- on nine shots. He was 5-of-6 beyond the arc, and the one he missed was open.

If Tucker is allowed to set up camp in the corners without resistance and make 89 percent of his shots, it doesn’t much matter that Harden was 3-of-15 from deep and 9-of-24 overall.

The Warriors too often lost focus on defense, getting away from the scouting report. There were instances when they got caught up in trying to contain Harden, partly because they were making too much of an effort to help whenever he used screens to seek a matchup with Curry.

Curry’s teammates were guilty of too frequently losing focus, as was Curry himself.

“Whether they get a bucket or not, my job is to make it tough on them,” Curry said. “I did that really well in Game 1. In Game 2, in watching the film, I had plays where I was in-between whether to switch or not, and which way to send a guy. You’ve just got to have a little more assurance with what you’re doing on the defensive end and know you’ve got guys behind you ready to rotate. And we’ve all got to be on the same page.

“That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2.”

Curry betrayed the trust of his teammates, which is the most essential component of the Hamptons 5 unit -- Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Curry. When they’re in tune, communication and trust keeps them tight, allowing them to close holes and create walls that deny offenses.

The Warriors would like Curry to rediscover his shot-making MVP self. Fire and splash and blow the roof off Oracle Arena in Game 3 on Sunday.

What they need, though, is for Curry to be fully engaged in the defensive game plan. If he is, and the Hamptons 5 are, and the rest of the Warriors fall in line, the shots will come and they will start to drop.

Meanwhile, the symposium has another day and a half. It closes at 5 p.m. Sunday, when Game 3 tips off.

Meanwhile, Curry seems to have proper perspective on his health and his shooting.

“It’s something to talk about,” he said.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
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