Although the Golden State Warriors took a tough 125-113 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, there was still some positive news to come out of Tuesday. Mainly that Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins are back in the lineup, giving the Warriors their League’s best five-person unit back for the first time since Dec. 3.
However, the Warriors will likely look to play with more intensity and focus on meeting their goal of making the NBA Finals again and defending their 2022 championship. That much is clear to four-time champion Klay Thompson (29 points), who noticed that Golden State “relaxed a bit more than we should have,”
“I think with Steph and [Andrew Wiggins] back, we probably relaxed a bit more than we should have,” Gy Thompson said, per ESPN. “We thought with them showing up; we’d just get the dub.”
Meanwhile, Curry and Wiggins are looking to regain their rhythm and swag. Chef Curry dropped 24 points on 8-22 shooting from the floor and 5-15 from beyond the arc. Wiggins contributed 10 points on 5-16 shooting and was noticeably looking to find that aggression and rhythm he had before he suffered his abductor strain and illness that took him out for over a month.
Curry said that he wasn’t thinking about his shoulder while he played and that he didn’t think his conditioning took much of a hit due to the 11 games he missed after suffering a shoulder issue on Dec. 14. He also believed that playing under a minute restriction made finding his rhythm back a little more complicated.
He noted that there was a level of pressure to play at a high level of play within a certain amount of time on the court. He tried to balance regaining his form while trying to play within the flow of the game and said that his first game back was “hit or miss” as he tried to knock the rust off and play within the speed of the game.
“It’s hit or miss with how much rust you will have and how close you can get to the speed of the game,” Curry said. “The first quarter, it felt good just to be out there, running with our guys. I felt like I got stronger as the game went on. In the fourth, the intensity of the game picked up. We were playing very desperately, trying to come back and make some plays. I felt like myself again.”
The Warriors were encouraged by their play in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Suns 34-27 as they climbed back into the game as Curry scored 14 points in the final frame. The two-time MVP hit three consecutive triples to give the Warriors some momentum, then Jordan Poole (27 points) hit a layup, the Dubs got a stop, and Poole hit a three-pointer to pull Golden State to within six after trailing by 27.
“I’m hoping that fourth quarter was the team that I have come to know and love and recognize,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But we have to show in the first quarter, not in the fourth quarter.”
At the halfway point of the season, Kerr and the Warriors hope they can consistently play as they did in the fourth quarter. They have another 41 games left in the season to see if that’s who they are or if this Jekyll and Hyde type of season is who they are.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Curry said. “Eventually, you have to do it, or else time runs out. We have 41 games to figure it out — or else we won’t.”