Coming off a dazzling performance Monday night, when he scored 50 points to lead the Warriors over the Atlanta Hawks, Stephen Curry knows what to expect when he walks into Chase Center on Wednesday.
A full night of the grabbing, bumping, irritating defense of Patrick Beverley.
Whether playing for the Houston Rockets or the Los Angeels Clippers, and now the Minnesota Timberwolves, the always fascinating Curry-Beverley matchup opens its ninth year Wednesday night, when the Warriors play host to the T-Wolves.
They’ve known each other since they were teenagers attending the same basketball camps. Each has addressed or commented on the other on social media. Each has gotten in the face of the other.
Whereas Curry has three NBA championships, two MVP awards and eight All-Star games on his resumé, Beverley stays in the NBA by using scrap and pluck.
Aside from annoying Kevin Durant in the first round of the Warriors-Clippers playoff series in 2019 playoffs, Beverley’s mission is to harass opposing point guards by any means necessary. He seems to take particular delight in trying to get inside Curry’s head. More often than not, he fails.
So intense are some of their on-court battles that Curry addressed it before that Warriors-Clippers series in 2019, the last time the two met in the postseason.
“Just play basketball. That's what we're out on the court to do,” Curry said before Game 1. “Antics and all that type of stuff -- likely to happen. Nothing distracts me from playing basketball.
“Historically speaking, it hasn't worked.”
Curry throughout his career is averaging 25.2 points and 6.8 assists in 23 regular-season games against Beverley, per statmuse.com, while shooting 47.4 percent shooting from the field, including 39.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Though Curry’s overall numbers, including minutes, take a slight dip across the board in the postseason (eight games) – 22.3 points, 4.8 assists – his scoring efficiency goes up to 49.1 percent from the field and 48.4 percent from distance.
Most of those 31 games had stakes. During Beverley’s time with the Rockets, they and the Warriors represented the best of the Western Conference – with the Warriors ousting Houston in four of their five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. During Beverley’s time in Los Angeles, there was an extra layer of emotion driving Warriors-Clippers contests.
The Warriors and Timberwolves, then, is quite different. There is no history of animus and no high-stakes games.
Not that jersey colors will matter much when Curry and Beverley lock eyes on each other.