In the Western Conference semifinal battle between Northern and Southern California, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in six games. The Lakers victory on their home floor sent the defending champs — and winners of four of the last eight NBA titles — home to think about what might have been. And about what’s next.
To that question — what’s next? — the superstar Curry delivered an unequivocal answer, putting the Warriors management on high alert.
While the defeat brought the expected gracious quotes from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who said “the better team won and I can’t fault our players for their effort,” it also exposed the Warriors for their major weakness. Effort is one thing, but what about the arsenal?
That’s the subject Curry, the 35-year-old 2x NBA MVP, addressed in his harsh — though slightly coded — statement after the game. In just eight words, Curry completely outed the Warriors’ deficiencies.
“We didn’t have a changeup pitch to throw,” Curry said “which led to the result.”
Curry was talking specifically about the Warriors utter reliance on outside shooting, especially the 3-pointer, and not having another option when the shots wouldn’t fall. And wouldn’t fall is an understatement.
Game 6. pic.twitter.com/MXtwoHOtXx— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 13, 2023
Curry’s fellow “splash brother” Klay Thompson went 3-of-19 from the floor in Game 6 while Curry himself managed to hit just two of his 12 3-point attempts.
Curry’s harsh “changeup” message lets Warriors management know that a change — the word “changeup” was not accidental — is needed. And now.
The Warriors spent big last summer to lock in guard Jordan Poole, another small shooter type, rather than trying to secure a strong post player on the open market. Kevon Looney, who while rebounding like an All-Star at the center position for Golden State, is rarely a threat to score. Power forward Draymond Green‘s role isn’t as a scorer either.
To win in today’s NBA — and this is exactly what Curry is telling the Warriors’ brass — a team needs a multi-pronged approach. The Warriors, as Curry implies, have just one pitch.
These playoffs and these Lakers brutally exposed the Warriors one-dimensionality. And when Curry’s fastball (AKA his 3-point prowess) is shaky — he shot less than 30% from 3 during the last four games — the Warriors have no other options.
Curry will watch the rest of the NBA playoffs on TV and see exactly what he lacks: In the West, dominant big man and post player extraordinaire Nikola Jokic — another 2x MVP — will lead the Denver Nuggets against the Lakers, whose own big man Davis makes the Lakers multidimensional.
In the East, Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo gives Miami its “change-up” with inside scoring, while newly crowned NBA MVP Joel Embiid has dominated for Philadelphia. Of the remaining teams, only the Celtics lack a dominant big man, though Robert Williams has shown signs of filling that role.