The Warriors begin Act Two without their headliner. Monta Ellis has played more games and minutes than anyone could've expected coming into the season, but he is not in Phoenix tonight. In his absence, Stephen Curry steps fully into the spotlight for the first time.
Curry has been coming on strong of late... he has had about as productive a January as any rookie in the league, and set career-highs in both points and field-goal attempts just last night. And for us to have a chance here, he may need to break those highs again. For he and Corey Maggette will be the only two Warriors in uniform tonight who've shown any ability to create offense. Against the Phoenix Suns, they'll need to create plenty of it.
Tonight, Stephen Curry faces off against the legendary playmaker to whom he is so often compared. Their first showdown was far from competitive, but it occurred in Curry's second NBA game... he is a more assertive scorer and better defender than he was then. Their second showdown saw the Warriors come out on top, but Nash again outshined Curry, who rarely saw the ball. That will not be the case here. Tonight, Stephen Curry will have the ball more often than any rookie has all season; he will have the ball more often than most NBA players ever do. Curry will be tired and defensively hamstrung -- as our only guard, he can't afford to get in foul trouble. And while the Suns' defense is horrible, Curry has not yet shown that he can consistently make plays in the halfcourt. His task is comically difficult.
There is no doubt who the two Players to Watch are here tonight... everything boils down to Steve Nash against Stephen Curry. The game will probably not go our way, and may not even be competitive. But it's not likely to be boring. Tonight, we'll get a better sense of just what this young man can do.
PostThoughts - Suns 112, Warriors 103
My DVR decided not to record this game, and from the sounds of it, may have made a pretty savvy call. Gritty performance from an overmatched team, yadda yadda yadda... we've danced this dance before. Curry is said to have had a rough night, and Maggette's numbers are the weakest they've been since the calendar turned. Nice to see CJ's name again, at least, and that's a damn fine line from Tolliver.
The barnstormin' continues in Sacramento on Tuesday, with a winnable road game that will pose an interesting test.