Curry officially in the Steph Zone: Give him the ball

Curry officially in the Steph Zone: Give him the ball

OAKLAND -- There are times when he needs only one clean splash to know where he is headed and for teammates and opponents to know what’s coming.

And don’t let him drain two in a row.

That’s when it’s popcorn time for the Warriors and their fans -- and sheer dread for the opposition.

That’s where Stephen Curry is right now, both feet planted in the Steph Zone. Two games into these Western Conference Finals, the Warriors are up 2-0 and Curry’s shots are falling from all over the court, drenching the Spurs while turning Oracle Arena into his personal cheering section.

“To see him knock down those shots and play with that aggression, and it's definitely better for us and better for the rest of the guys in the group as well,” Kevin Durant said Tuesday night, after Curry scored a game-high 29 points on 13 shots in a 136-100 rout. “He's shooting from two, three feet behind the 3-point line. Man, that's impressive. It's definitely been fun to watch.”

Since going 6-for-20 on May 6 in Game 3 of the conference semifinals at Utah, Curry is averaging 33.0 points on 57.4-percent shooting, including 48.6 percent from deep.

The Warriors are halfway to the NBA Finals largely because he has torched San Antonio for 69 points in 70 minutes, shooting 56.4 percent (22-of-39) from the field and 52 percent (13-of-25) beyond the arc.

Now, this is Gregg Popovich and San Antonio we’re talking about, the team that historically takes pride in not allowing 3-point specialists to get comfortable beyond the arc. Non-shooters can launch all they like, but the Spurs crowd shooters such as Curry. They chase and they close out and anything less means an earful of Pop.

They’ve so far mostly failed to meet that demand when it comes to Curry, and it hasn’t mattered much even when they’re in the immediate vicinity.

Asked about his recent play, Curry cited the challenge of the postseason.

“This is playoff time, and if you're not excited and don't get that adrenaline rush and get locked into the moment, you're going to miss out,” he said. “So, thankfully, I'm playing well, playing aggressive and confident, shots going in, trying to be locked in in every other aspect of the game too.”

The Warriors talked of avoiding a repeat of Game 1, in which a sluggish and sloppy first quarter dropped them into a 30-16 hole that forced them come together and fight for the victory. Curry scored 19 points in the third quarter, igniting the comeback.

He made sure Game 2 would be different, coming out in the first quarter and scoring 15 points. The Spurs, stifled by nasty Warriors defense, had 16.

“Stephen Curry has been doing a great job of really setting a tone, shooting the ball, being aggressive, attacking, him and Kevin,” Shaun Livingston said. “We just kind of follow suit.”

That’s the thing about Curry and 3-balls. When they start dropping, it becomes an almost tangible thing, certainly to the other team. Defenses get wrecked, inevitably leading to a sense of despair.

“I’ve been on the other end of it and it’s not fun,” Brown said. “You’re frightened to death to begin with, and once he hits one you’re on alert. And if he hits two in a row, it’s like a floodgate that opens up that you really can’t plug.”

With due respect to anything anybody else can do, no sequence in the NBA is more intoxicating for his team while demoralizing the opponent than when Curry makes three triples in a row, as he did in final five minutes of the first quarter in Game 2.

The effect is something Durant, a first-year Warrior, is seeing for the first time on a regular basis.

“He gets everybody else open once he gets it going like that,” he said. “He creates so many open shots for everybody else. You know, it’s just the team we have. If he’s got it going, give him the ball. If Klay has it going, give him the ball. Same with me, same with anybody.”

Curry has got it going. Give him the ball.

Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season


Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season

Despite the severity of Gordon Hayward's injury, there was a small bit of hope that he might be able to return this season.

It appears that won't happen.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night and is "unlikely to return this season," his agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.

"We expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form," Bartelstein told ESPN.

The Celtics' prized offseason acquisition suffered the terrifying ankle injury just five minutes into his Boston debut on Tuesday night. He was diagnosed with a dislocated left ankle and broken tibia.

After playing in Cleveland on Tuesday, the Celtics returned to Boston for their home opener on Wednesday against the Bucks. Prior to the game, a 30-second video message from Hayward to the fans was played in the arena.

“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said. “I’m going to be all right. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight.”

Steve Kerr: #FakeKlay 'perfect metaphor for our conditioning'

Steve Kerr: #FakeKlay 'perfect metaphor for our conditioning'

First, there was #ChinaKlay.

Now, there is #FakeKlay.

In case you missed it, a Klay Thompson lookalike was seated behind the Warriors bench during their season-opening loss to the Rockets on Tuesday. He had the full jersey, the facial hair and the cadence.

A day later, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was asked about #FakeKlay and he used it as an opportunity to state that he felt his players were out of shape.

"I thought it was a perfect metaphor for our conditioning as a team," Kerr told the media in Oakland. "I turned around and was like 'Klay, did you have a few extra burgers last night? What happened?' That was great. I love that guy."

So Kerr is definitely a fan of #FakeKlay. No word yet if the real Klay has met #FakeKlay. We'll let you know if they do cross paths.