Steve Kerr went into Game Five with a plan. It seemed achievable to him, it seemed reasonable to the Warriors and wise to Stephen Curry.
Fully aware that with the first round of the NBA playoff series against the Kings heading into Game 6 on Friday and possibly Game 7 on Sunday, the coach wanted to be vigilant about the mileage accumulated by his veteran team, particularly Curry.
“That’s on my mind,” he said on Wednesday, 90 minutes before Game 5 was announced. “I would like to keep Steve around 38. It would be great to get him five minutes per half. We’ll try to do that.”
Then the warning came.
“But it will depend on how the game goes,” Kerr said.
The original plan survived the first half, with Curry coming off the floor for five minutes and 19 seconds, but was unceremoniously discarded after halftime.
Carey played everything but 43 sec from the second half.
This was Kerr, along with his coaching and coaching staff, aware of the circumstances. On the road, as the Warriors lost their first two games after a poor road record in the regular season. Tough game in the postseason series, tied at 2-2.
A loss in Game 5 in Sacramento would have put the Warriors on the brink of elimination, and the same goes for Game 6 at the Chase Center.
Kerr knows that investigating Curry, who has trained his body to combat signs of fatigue, is usually met with a reluctance to sit down. Under these circumstances, this reluctance may be extreme.
So, Curry went on to play 23:17 of the 24 minutes of the second half, including all but 1.2 seconds of the last 14:10 of the 123-116 win at Golden 1.
It was good in the first half, and even better in the second. More points (12 in the first, 19 in the second). Equal number of assists (four). One less turn (three, two). An even plus/minus in the first, followed by a plus 4 in the second.
The only sign of fatigue was Curry shooting 0-of-5 from behind the arc in the second half after shooting 2-of-5 in the first.
This was Curry testing himself. Not his fitness level but the depth of his desire. He was showing leadership to Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and the under-22 group off the bench. Moreover, he could not bear the thought of not being in the middle of a conflict with his old buddies Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney.
At 35, Curry knows he has most of his career behind him. The remaining years are worth everything he has. Every match, especially in the playoffs, deserves total loyalty. Every moment you should enjoy.
“We’re doing something that’s very unique and that could change at any time,” Curry said after Game 5 in Sacramento. “For us to be in this position, still out there and still get results, it’s really dope.
“Each of us has gone through a lot trying to maintain the level we’re at and we hear all the talk about, ‘How long can we do this?'” “
There’s no wonder why Curry so eagerly played a season-high 43 minutes in Golden State’s 126-125 Game 4 win at Chase Center. He was grounded for all but 94 seconds of the second half, during which he scored 19 of his 32 points. The Warriors took second place by five points.
Like Game 5, Curry in Game 4 was better in the second half than in the first.
Curry smells serious this postseason. It might be the last with Draymond. It may be the latter under General Manager Bob Myers. It may be the last chance for Steve Clay-Draymond’s iconic core.
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When Carey mentions “the talk” about the group coming to an end, he echoes comments he began hearing as a scrawny teenager. doubt. doubt. lack of faith.
But this only intensifies his commitment.
Curry finished Game 5 with a game-high 31 points, 12 of 25 assists from the field, and a team-high 8 assists—and a Warriors victory.
Now one victory from advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals, Kerr’s goal for Curry in Game 6 wouldn’t be much different from the one he gave up in Game 5.
If the game required more from Curry, Kerr wouldn’t hesitate. And he shouldn’t, because he knows Carrie would be so willing to meet the moment.
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