Entering Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Stephen Curry had been held to 20 or fewer points in four consecutive games for the first time since 2014. It wasn’t a matter of if an eruption was coming. It was just a matter of when.
In a 127-113 Warriors victory over Atlanta, Curry dropped 50 points and 10 assists for the first time in his career. In doing so, Curry became the first player in the league this season to hang a 50 piece while also passing Wilt Chamberlin as the oldest player in history to record that 50-10 line.
Curry added seven rebounds, three steals and a block to his ledger. He shot 9-for-19 from 3 and 14-for-28 overall. He made all 13 of his free throws. The Warriors, who improved to a league-best 9-1, needed all of it. The Hawks put them in a 15-point hole with under four minutes to play in the second quarter.
Curry, whose altered minutes distribution has him sitting out the middle part of the second quarter, hit a pair of 3s and two free throws upon his re-entrance to cut Atlanta’s lead to four by the end of the half.
By the end of the third quarter, Golden State was up 17.
Do the math, and that’s a 32-point swing over 16 game minutes. That’s the old Warriors. One extended hot stretch, or sometimes not even all that extended if it’s extreme enough, is all they need to bury you.
To this point, any honest conversation about the Golden State Warriors’ red-hot start had to include their exceedingly soft schedule. Six of their nine wins have come against the Kings, Pelicans, Hornets, Rockets and Thunder (twice).
In addition to playing a lot of bad teams to start, the Warriors have been able to do so from the comforts of home, having played six straight at the Chase Center with two more to go — vs. Minnesota and Chicago — on this season-long homestand.
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That’s not to diminish what they’ve done. It’s just necessary context to their league-best defensive rating and point differential. Through that lens, the win over Atlanta was the most impressive of the season.
Atlanta hasn’t played great to start the season, but that’s a good team, a conference finalist from a year ago, and Trae Young had it going in the first half. For Curry and the Warriors to not bow out of the fight when they were down 15, on the second night of a back-to-back, says a lot.
As for Curry, it’s been somewhat of a bumpy start to the season. As mentioned above, he hadn’t scored more than 20 points in a week and a half. Entering the game vs. Atlanta, he was shooting 42 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from 3 — the latter of which, while a good number for most players, qualifies as borderline cold by Curry’s standards, especially when you consider the small sample size being relatively propped up by one big, 45-point night against the Clippers.
Throw out that game, and Curry entered Monday shooting just 34 percent from 3. Again, it wasn’t a matter of if he was going to break out. It was just a matter of when. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it happened on their watch.