OAKLAND -- The focus of this Warriors resurgence will be on the defense, as it should be, especially after they closed out a perfect week at home Saturday night by limiting the Bucks to 40.4-percent shooting.
But there was palpable relief with seeing Stephen Curry’s shots falling through the rim so cleanly the net barely noticed.
The defense, the Warriors know they can bring at any time. It’s their staple, the one basic element they can rely on times of strife.
But Curry’s offense Saturday night was the eye-opener. If the defense drove this 117-92 victory over Milwaukee, his shooting sent a gentle, relaxing breeze through Oracle Arena that dried those beads of sweat that had been collecting for weeks.
It wasn’t so much Curry’s 28 points but the sheer efficiency of it all: 9-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 4-of-4 from the line. It was the first game in three weeks in which Curry didn’t miss most of his 3-point shots.
With the sight of those shots going down, the team’s swagger, which took a massive tumble when Kevin Durant went down with an injury on Feb. 28, has materialized once again. That’s the magic of Hot Steph.
“Thank God I rested him last week,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr joked, referring to Curry being held out of the March 11 game at San Antonio.
“No, Steph was great. Without any sarcasm, getting through that stretch last week, we know, looking at the schedule it was going to be a tough stretch. We didn’t know Kevin was going to get hurt. But it was the double-whammy.”
Curry surely appeared refreshed. In three games at home this week he was 13-of-28 from beyond the ar.
In the seven games before this three-game homestand, for all practical purposes road games with a gruel travel schedule, Curry was 18-of-76 from deep.
Not that he ever wavered.
“Keep shooting,” Curry said. “That’s it, really. Can’t get discouraged by misses, can’t get too big-headed about good games. Keep pushing, keep your routine up and feed off your teammates’ energy. And keep the confidence.”
Curry made his first 3-ball, a 26-footer with 4:53 left in the first quarter. He missed his second and third attempts, then made his last four in a five in a row, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the first and a 33-footer in the final minute of the half.
“He’s going to make shots,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “You can be on him. He’s going to make them from halfcourt. He’s going to make some very tough shots . . . that’s just who he is.”
That’s not who he was for the better part of three weeks. Those days appear to have faded into history.
“I haven’t been worried about him at all,” teammate Andre Iguodala said. “I really look at his bounce, more than anything, the way he’s running and the way he’s shooting. The schedule is brutal; 82 games is a long time. That’s to be expected.”