OAKLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers locker room was quiet before Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night.
Maybe it was focus. Maybe it was anger.
Alone in his locker stall at Oracle Arena sat reserve shooting guard Seth Curry. Reserve has a double meaning when you're the younger brother of NBA superstar Stephen Curry. Seth comes off the bench for Portland coach Terry Stotts, and the younger Curry is also a bit of an introvert.
His annual trip to Oakland to watch postseason basketball this season came courtesy of a team plane this time around. He’s staying in a five-star hotel, not at his brother’s house. He’s wearing Blazers red and black, rather than hanging out in the family suite.
His Blazers are playing against Steph's Warriors.
“It’s a weird experience for me because I’m usually here hoping these guys win and hoping Steph plays well,” the younger Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area before the Blazers' 114-111 loss in Game 2. “I’m flipping the switch now, and I’m trying to knock him off. I’m just trying to focus in on my job.”
Older by nearly three years, Steph has all the hardware. He’s a two-time MVP and three-time NBA Champion. He has led the league led the league in scoring and is widely considered the greatest long-range shooter in NBA history.
“Being able to watch Steph and experience his journey over the past five years going to the Finals, the playoffs, whatever it is," Seth said, "I’ve just been able to watch his process and how prepares for every series in the playoffs and how he blocks out game by game all the storylines, I’m trying to do it as well,”
The younger Curry has fought his way into the league. The 28-year-old spent time in the G League (then the D-League) and played for four teams before breaking out with the Mavericks two seasons ago.
He sat out last year with a stress fracture in his lower left leg and signed with the Trail Blazers on a one-year deal over the summer. His play this season has likely earned a longer-term deal next year, whether in Portland or elsewhere.
Curry has carved out a niche as a sparkplug off the bench. He has the family range, like his brother and his father Dell, who played 16 years in the NBA beginning in 1986. Seth knocked down 45 percent of his 3-pointers this season, and boasts a career mark of 43.9 percent from distance.
This is his first chance to play in the postseason, after six years in the league. His Portland team has shocked the NBA with their play in this year’s playoffs, but facing off against his brother and the star-studded Warriors was not exactly what he was looking for.
“No, no, no, no,” Curry said when asked if he was glad his first experience was against his brother. “It’s a weird experience to be here for myself, but they’ve been the best team in the league for a long time. It’s not an easy road, that’s a tough team. It’s never fun playing against Steph and these Warriors just matching up head-to-head. But if we can knock them off, it’d be even sweeter.”
Curry came into the night averaging just 5.2 points in 19.2 minutes per game during the playoffs. Starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have carried a ton of the scoring load throughout the postseason, but Golden State did a nice job against the duo in Game 1.
In Game 2, Curry was a difference-maker early. He posted a plus-14 in 15 minutes during the first half Thursday. He was aggressive on both ends of the court as Stotts turned to a three-guard small-ball lineup.
After the intermission, Stotts waited to turn back to Curry and paid the price. The Warriors quickly erased a 15-point halftime deficit and took a two-point lead with 2:01 remaining in the third.
Curry entered the game and helped Portland get to the fourth quarter tied at 89-89. He continued his strong play in the final frame, leading the Blazers in scoring in the fourth with nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc.
“Seth was incredible,” Klay Thompson said after the Warriors' win. “He almost won the game for them. We got to do a better on him. He had 16 points. That’s a huge impact, plus-13, so we got to try and eliminate his looks the next game.”
Curry hit 5 of 9 shots from the field and added two assists in 29 minutes. On the defensive end, he picked up four steals, most of which came off of his big brother.
“It felt good, it felt like I changed the game and put in more energy,” Curry said. “I just made him work harder to get shots. I mean, he is going to put up numbers, he is going to play well to try and change the momentum.”
The two brothers went at each other with the game on the line. Both hit tremendous shots that helped their team, but the older, more experienced brother came out on top.
“I thought of their parents at one point,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Can you imagine watching your two boys go head-to-head in a playoff game and both of them hitting huge shots?
“It’s an incredible story to have two boys in the NBA, but particularly in the conference finals, playing head-to-head and knocking down all of these big shots. That must have been fun.”
Fun or gut-wrenching. Dell and Sonya Curry have watched their sons battle in the regular season, but never in the playoffs.
“This was like the coolest experience I think I've ever had playing against him,” Steph told reporters Thursday. “We talked about the stage and he was -- he was amazing tonight.”
“You know, every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest,” Steph added. “Made three big shots in the fourth quarter that were very timely and for my parents, I know we talked about the whole series, and these last two games, it's probably nerve-wracking as heck for them, but it worked out perfectly tonight. He played well and we won.”
Seth and his Trail Blazers teammates need to regroup. They’ll travel home to Portland and prepare for another matchup against the Warriors in Saturday night's Game 3 at Moda Center. They’re down two-games-to-none in the best-of-seven series, but they’re home crowd is sure to be raucous.