Stephen Curry’s struggles aren’t a Golden State Warriors’ biggest problem

Trade Stephen Curry!

That’s about the level of Internet sermon in a arise of a two-time MVP’s struggles opposite a Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day — struggles expel in an generally oppressive light when Curry’s indicate ensure counterpart, Kyrie Irving, strike a diversion personality while Curry sat on a bench.

Curry finished with 15 points on 4-for-11 sharpened and as many turnovers (3) as assists, a latest in a fibre of controversial performances. Simply put, a former on-court personality of a Golden State Warriors hasn’t been a same given Kevin Durant came to town.

We should impugn Curry for his shortcomings, of course. When you’re a superstar, there are no giveaway passes, and Curry’s opening of late has been a one apparent adhering indicate in an differently transcendent start to a deteriorate for a Warriors. Yet all a concentration on Curry obscures a genuine emanate in Golden State: When a title is on a line, who rounds out this “superteam”? Who’s a Warriors’ fifth actor opposite a Cavaliers? 

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The NBA is a many predicted of a 4 vital sports, a fact underscored by this really rivalry. We know what we’re going to get from any team’s “Big Four,” to a indicate that we can tighten your eyes and roughly see a diversion play out before you.

Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green move finesse, sharpened and usually adequate corner to make we wish to punch someone. LeBron, Kyrie, Thompson and Kevin Love will mangle your will in isolation, somehow come together as a ridiculously cohesive defensive unit, and retaliate we on a potion if we brave go small.

The furious card, then, is any team’s fifth actor — and it’s here that Cleveland has a motionless advantage over Golden State.

Lost in Sunday’s play was a fact that a Cavs kick a Warriors though J.R. Smith, who won’t be behind for a integrate months. When he’s healthy, he’s a starter, of course, bringing his singular brew of 3-point shooting, able invulnerability (when he wants to close in, anyway) and “No, no, no, no … YES!” moments with a diversion on a line. But Smith is usually a commencement of Cleveland’s abyss on a wing.

Channing Frye can come in and flame a nets though sacrificing height. Richard Jefferson gives a Cavs invulnerability and shooting, in that sequence — while also giving a group entrance to a imaginary fountain of youth, apparently. Iman Shumpert exists, too, and DeAndre Liggins is rising as a bigger, improved chronicle of Shumpert (and a troublesome defender in his possess right).

None of them are stars, and that’s fine; Cleveland has copiousness of star power. All a Cavs need from their fifth male in break time is a actor who will play his purpose to perfection, and they have mixed options.

Golden State’s fifth, on a other hand?

(Photo by Joe Murphy /NBAE around Getty Images)

In years past, a answer was Andre Iguodala. For all of a regard we righteously store on Draymond Green for his versatility, a Warriors’ small-ball proceed wouldn’t work though Iguodala. His basketball IQ, eagerness to make a right pass and defensive ability concede Golden State to put a best 5 basketball players on a court, regardless of position. The Warriors trust they’ll make adult a distance disproportion with higher decision-making and shooting. In a past, it’s been a estimable gamble.

Unfortunately, we saw a 2015 NBA Finals MVP take a poignant step behind in final year’s pretension lean opposite a Cavaliers, due in vast partial to a creeping behind injury. Although Iguodala seems healthy enough 6 months later, he’s nonetheless to rebound behind to his pre-June form this season.

Against Cleveland on Sunday, in fact, he was a wheeze of his former self. The customarily wilful Iguodala was wavering with a round and uncertain of his burst shot. Rather than a portion occurrence on a biggest stage, however, that’s spin a normal for a former LeBron stopper.

If Iguodala isn’t himself in a intensity rubber-match Finals opposite a Cavaliers this season, Golden State will have a vivid debility on both ends of a justice usually vagrant to be exploited by Cleveland. The Cavs will run Iguodala off a building in transition and lean a invulnerability divided from a actor who’s sharpened usually 31.5 percent on 3s this season, while LeBron will go to work opposite a actor who no longer can ensure a King.

And when — not if — a Cavs are successful in forcing a substitution, where does Steve Kerr turn?

JaVale McGee has been a good square for Golden State during times this unchanging season, though we substantially can’t play him in a Western Conference finals, let alone a NBA Finals. Zaza Pachulia? Good fitness opposite Tristan Thompson, my friend. Ian Clark could have his moments, perhaps; maybe David West competence take a few mins here or there; though all of these are scattershot solutions for a group in need of a accurate answer to an strident problem.

Where a Cavs need wings who will govern a overarching scheme, a Warriors need one of dual things from their fifth player: either a rim-protecting large who cleans adult any mistakes committed by a fringe defense (like that one man who plays for Dallas now), or a helper wing who can ensure LeBron, Love or even Thompson in spurts, depending on what a matchup dictates. Neither of those players exists on this roster.

None of this is to contend Curry has been good this deteriorate — or opposite a Cavs in general. The reigning MVP must be better, generally in a fundamentals. As a Warriors continue to run their offense by Durant, Curry has to dedicate to using his defender by screens, not around them. He substantially needs to freelance a small reduction on defense, too, nonetheless it’s always tough to decider what’s a bad preference and what’s an try to cover for someone else’s mistake on that finish of a court.

Those issues can and will be fixed. It’s usually December, after all. The Warriors are too good to let a small things penetrate their punish tour. Yet a incomparable doubt in Golden State seems expected to go unanswered this season, and that spells difficulty for a Warriors.

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