Warriors schedule week 22: Stephen Curry finds his groove as Thunder, Grizzlies await

Last Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors trailed 90-78 after three quarters against the Philadelphia 76ers at home. Stephen Curry had missed 13 of his 17 shots and the Warriors were shooting 33 percent. At that point, those of us who insisted Golden State needn’t panic after a three-game losing streak felt a little silly. Why were the Warriors malfunctioning?

Then they outscored Philadelphia 28-14, took a half-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the standings and Klay Thompson told reporters that Curry would “have a huge breakout game coming soon.” This felt much more normal, and Golden State has been pretty much impossible since. 

Thompson wasn’t entirely correct -- in the two games after that, Curry did not erupt for 40 or 50 points. He did not hit 10 3s or record a triple-double. He did, however, play like a superstar. Against the Orlando Magic , he had 25 points and shot 8-for-15 in 28 minutes, with nine assists. Against the Milwaukee Bucks , he had 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 6-for-8 from deep, plus four assists in 30 minutes. Both were blowouts, with Golden State in rhythm and creating open shots at will. 

So, here we are. With 13 games left in the regular season, the Warriors are the best team in the league and Kevin Durant is back on the road with them. It never made sense to freak out about a few losses, and it never made sense to expect Curry to keep missing wide-open looks. The next few weeks will be about staying healthy, holding off San Antonio and re-integrating Durant when he’s ready. 

Stephen Curry celebrates
Stephen Curry is feeling good. USATSI

WARRIORS CHECK-IN

Record: 55-14

Scoring leader: Kevin Durant (25.3)

Assists leader: Draymond Green (7.2)

Rebounding leader: Kevin Durant (8.2)

Last week: Defeated 76ers, Magic, Bucks (3-0)

GAMES THIS WEEK

Monday, 8 p.m. ET: Oklahoma City Thunder

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  

TV: TNT

Streaming: WatchTNT

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Mavericks

Where: American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas  

TV: NBA League Pass

Streaming: NBA League Pass

Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings

Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, California  

TV: NBA League Pass

Streaming: NBA League Pass

Sunday, 8 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies

Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, California  

TV: NBA League Pass

Streaming: NBA League Pass

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Iguodala’s aggressiveness

Andre Iguodala made headlines for some post-game comments that I still can’t believe warranted a fine, and I wish the same amount of attention was given to how he’s played since Durant got hurt. In Atlanta two weeks ago, he scored a season-high 24 points on just 6-for-8 shooting when the Warriors were desperate for someone to make plays. Against Orlando and Milwaukee, he did a little bit of everything, but was again aggressive (for him) on offense, scoring a combined 29 points on 12-for-18 shooting. 

The Magic game was the first time this season he has taken 10 shots, and I’d like to see him do that more while Durant is injured. With how well he takes care of the ball when he’s in his hands, Golden State coach Steve Kerr trusts him to sense what the team needs and be a playmaker when necessary.

“We rely on him so much for so many different things,” Kerr said Friday, via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but he deserves it because he’s a phenomenal basketball player.”

Iguodala’s value is most obvious when defending stars. It’s OK if he has quiet scoring nights, but the Warriors are better when he’s engaged and creating for both himself and others. 

The Grizzlies problem?

The Warriors easily disposed of the Grizzlies the last time these teams met, winning 122-107 on the night that Green made NBA history by recording a triple-double without the points. Green’s 10 steals reflected the fact that Memphis was sloppy and disorganized, and Klay Thompson managed 36 points on 13-for-23 shooting, too. 

Golden State was focused and energized at least in part because it had lost to Memphis in its two prior regular-season meetings -- one a blowout, one a collapse. Historically, the Grizzlies have found ways to rattle the Warriors at times, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens here. After a concerning, confusing five-game losing streak to start March, Memphis has now won four games in a row, playing perhaps its best defense of the season. 

Pachulia vs. Westbrook 

Hey, remember when Russell Westbrook threatened to get Zaza Pachulia back for standing over him after a flagrant foul? Remember when Pachulia said that foul was payback for an elbow from Westbrook on the previous possession? These two haven’t played against each other since then because Pachulia missed the last meeting due to a shoulder injury, and it’s highly unlikely either of them has forgotten what happened. I’m not saying there will necessarily be an incident on Monday, but Westbrook basically promised one. 

BIGGEST ONE-ON-ONE MATCHUP

Curry vs. Westbrook: I’m not picking this because of the “Who is he?” thing or any kind of rivalry. I’m picking this because these are two of the best players in the NBA and they happen to play the same position. They won’t guard each other all game, but they’ve had duels before and I just love the contrast in style. 

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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