Steph Is…Soft?

The haters of the unanimous MVP are having their glorious moment because Steph Curry is everything they have been saying he is, an exceptional shooter who can be stopped with physicality, pressure and having to guard a dominant point guard. Stop saying he is in the same class as Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas or Steve Nash, his critics bellow. Curry was mediocre in the 2015 NBA Finals and he has disappeared in 2016. The Curry doublters point out his excellence from behind the arc and dribbling in the lane but if you go at him hard you stop him which is the Steph Curry truth. Greatest of their generation players are never stopped.

If the Warriors win this thing, Steph Curry will not be the series MVP. The last time that happened, where a team’s best player wasn’t the MVP of the Finals, was last year when Andre Iguodala was awarded the MVP. Before that, it was 1988-89 when Joe Dumars won the MVP for the Pistons. Dumars is a Hall of Famer and provided toughness, defense, scoring and intelligence to the Pistons backcourt but he wasn’t better than Isiah Thomas.

In the Finals of 2016, everyone is better than Steph Curry. Richard Jefferson is having a better series. J.R. Smith is having a better series and he was garbage in two games. Curry can’t make shots and when he can’t make shots the defense gets a little physical. They take away his dribbling and he looks confused and frustrated.

So Not the MVP Points 3-Point% Assists Turnovers
2016 Finals 16.0 40.0% 4.3 4.0
2016 Regular Season 30.1 45.4% 6.7 3.3
2015 Finals 26.0 38.4% 6.3 4.6
2015 Regular Season 23.8 44.3% 7.7 3.3

Furthermore, Curry is getting beat by Kyrie Irving– no surprise there- or he is in foul trouble. He really does look like Curry of three years ago, like this is his first time playing on this level. Take his shot away and his swag and hanging mouth piece and self-celebrations are history.

But this is where the Curry double standard comes into play. If his performance was anyone else’s, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, Shaq, the media would be trashing them up and down and around the block. But the favoritism of Curry by the media means his narrative is one of injury or he is not playing well. When was the last time you heard Curry attached with can’t handle the pressure…choking…not giving effort. The worst thing anyone says about him is how he acts after he makes a shot. So loved is he by NBA writers, they can’t bring themselves to say Steph Curry is not playing like an unanimous MVP in the 2016 Finals. “He is not his usual self” is as harsh as it gets.

After last night’s game, Steve Kerr upped it one notch and used the s-word when describing his team’s performance.

“Soft. We were extremely soft to start the game. Steph got beat back door, couple turnovers. Just a horrible way to start.”

Soft and Steph Curry in the same sentence. You do the math.

The series hasn’t tilted Cleveland’s way yet. A Warriors win on Friday will pretty much wrap it up. The Cavs have to play as hard and as manic and with twice as much energy, if that is even possible, and they have to do what they have been doing to the Warriors back court, which is roughing them up.

“They were playing aggressive defense and they came out with a big punch. I didn’t do anything about it or play my game or do what I need to do to help my team.” (Steph Curry)

This isn’t a new Steph Curry story. He was punked in the first two games of last year’s NBA Finals by Matthew Dellavedova. Steph finally got it in gear which he will probably do in this series. He is too good of a shooter even if he has knee complications. But the best player has to show up in some area of the game.

The Curry numbers are deceiving and prove you can’t judge performance by looking at a box score. His 43.5% shooting is okay for anyone else. He is 40% on threes, a good number. But Curry was 50-40-90 this year, 50% field goals, 40% from three, 90% from the line. He wasn’t a good shooter, he was extraordinary.

The I’ve got to play better is tired. It’s a platitude. It sounds rehearsed. Curry needs to perform, to put his fingerprints all over the game, to play tough and not lackluster, to be the best player. It’s feels ironic and misplaced now, all the Steph is better than LeBron talk. But to be fair, LeBron was a shell of himself on the road in the Finals too. But he came around and was greatest player LeBron last night. He wasn’t soft.

Curry can’t say the same.

photo via llananba