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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Steve Kerr is reducing Stephen Curry’s minutes — is it as a result of he is aware of this Warriors season is a misplaced trigger?

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The Golden State Warriors are dangerously near falling out of the Play-In match and Steve Kerr is conserving Stephen Curry glued to the bench for greater than 9 straight minutes down the stretch of a good recreation towards the league’s greatest protection? 

Make it make sense. 

“We’re making an attempt to get him as a lot relaxation as we will,” Kerr mentioned of Curry following the Warriors’ 114-110 loss at Minnesota on Sunday. “We have performed him lots of minutes. We performed him 35 [minutes] two days in the past. So so long as we have been hanging in there, we wished to restrict the minutes a bit of bit. Not restrict them, however not overplay him.”

There is a massive distinction between taking part in Curry 30 whole minutes and overplaying him. It is true, Curry performed 35 minutes on Friday in a loss to the Pacers, together with all the fourth quarter, which the Warriors entered with a 14-point deficit. Curry did not change a lot. They misplaced by 12. 

Nonetheless, Kerr needed to strive. With 12 video games to play, the Warriors are clinging to a one-game lead within the loss column over the Rockets for the ultimate Play-in spot. Each recreation is huge. When Curry sat down on the 4:07 mark of the third quarter on Sunday, the Warriors held a four-point lead. When he got here again in on the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter, they have been down eight. That is too massive a swing for a workforce already working on a razor-thin margin. 

“I need to play as many minutes as I am contemporary and capable of, so I am a bit of bit [surprised] realizing that [the Timberwolves] have been happening a run,” Curry mentioned after Sunday’s loss. “Our lead was withering away. … I performed the entire fourth quarter towards Indiana and it did not work out, this did not work out [against Minnesota]. We have to search out someplace within the center.”

Curry clearly desires to play extra, however Kerr has made his place clear. In 14 video games for the reason that All-Star break, Curry has solely performed greater than 32 minutes twice. He’s averaging fewer than half-hour an evening over 9 video games in March. He performed 17 in a blowout loss to Boston, 24 in a blowout win over Memphis, and simply 29 minutes in a brutal loss to the Bulls

Sure, Curry obtained injured in that Chicago recreation, however the ankle roll got here with beneath 4 minutes to play. Even had he completed the sport, he would’ve been beneath 33 whole minutes. 

You possibly can argue that Curry wants the remaining, whether or not he likes it or not. His manufacturing has plummeted fairly significantly — maybe, at the least half, due to the heavy scoring and creation burden he is needed to take tackle this season for an getting older workforce that’s combating uphill each night time. He entered Sunday averaging 21.3 factors on barely 40% capturing, together with 35% from 3, over 9 video games in March. 

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“We will not count on to only experience Steph recreation after recreation after recreation,” Kerr mentioned. “We have put the burden of this franchise on his shoulders for 15 years. We will not count on him to play 35 minutes … If you wish to say that him taking part in half-hour as an alternative of 32 is a distinction between a win and a loss, I completely disagree with that. We’re making an attempt to win the sport. And we’re making an attempt to maintain him contemporary, too.”

To me, there’s one other idea in play right here: Deep down, Kerr is aware of this Warriors workforce is finished. All season he has performed the “I consider this workforce can compete” card, however let’s face the laborious information. It is over. They’re taking part in out the string. Whether or not the season ends in mid-April or late April is semantics. 

It is both that, or Kerr nonetheless believes this Warriors workforce can compete for a title, during which case his sitting Curry for 9 straight minutes down the stretch of a damn-near must-win recreation would qualify as malpractice. I am not shopping for that. 

After Kansas’ loss within the NCAA Tourney on Saturday, Invoice Self mentioned: “For the final month, I have been eager about subsequent season to be trustworthy.” It was a blunt evaluation a couple of workforce that Self knew did not have it. If Kerr harbors the same sentiment about this yr’s Warriors, might you blame him? The man is aware of what a contending workforce seems to be like, and this ain’t it. 

So why faucet Curry’s tank simply to lose within the Play-in or the primary spherical? Take a look at the timeline right here. Curry turned 36 this month. He’ll play within the Olympics this summer season. He has two years remaining on his present contract, and Kerr simply signed his personal extension that traces up immediately with the 2026 shut of Curry’s deal. 

He is not simply trying to hold Curry as contemporary as attainable for the weeks forward. He is trying to take action for the years forward. This summer season, Chris Paul and Klay Thompson might be gone. Jonathan Kuminga has made a leap. The Warriors have some future draft picks they’ll commerce. If there’s yet another probability to drag a roster rabbit out of the hat and put a contending workforce on the ground within the Bay, it could solely occur if Curry is up for the duty of carrying a large load into his late thirties. Preparation for which may already be beginning. 

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