Stephen Curry’s Disappearing Act in the 4th Quarter Bizarrely Proves the Golden State Warriors Are Legitimate Contenders

As the Golden State Warriors sit atop the Western Conference with a perfect 4-0 record, much of the praise has fallen on Stephen Curry. The two-time MVP has once again been magnificent, raining down threes like any other season.

While it’s easy to assume Curry has delivered down the stretch in every game this season, that’s not exactly the case. In fact, over the last two games, Curry’s teammates have stepped up to prove Golden State is more than a one-man show.

Stephen Curry has gone cold in his last two fourth quarters

A quick glance at Curry’s numbers reveals nothing out of the ordinary. The 33-year-old has 21, 27, and 23-point games this season, with a 45-point explosion against the Los Angeles Clippers sandwiched in. However, a closer look details an interesting observation.

In Golden State’s first two games, Curry scored five points and 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Warriors trailed in both heading into the final 12 minutes but managed to pull out victories thanks in part to their star guard. However, in each of the Warriors’ past two games, Curry has scored a grand total of … you guessed it, zero points.

It’s not as if the Dubs had either game in hand. Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, Golden State was clinging to a two-point lead on the road heading into the fourth. Curry, who had 27 after three frames, missed all four of his shot attempts in the fourth including a pair of threes. Two nights later versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors were up by five before Steph was held to a single shot attempt in the fourth.

Curry’s nonexistence in the fourth quarter is a sharp turn from the end of last season. In Golden State’s final three games, which included a pair of play-in contests, the sharpshooter scored 11, 11, and 16 fourth-quarter points.

Curry’s teammates have picked up the slack

There’s no questioning whether Stephen Curry is Golden State’s best player or not. But the Dubs have shown their depth when their star fades to the background.

Andrew Wiggins was a bright spot for the Warriors on Sunday. The 2014 first overall pick scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth thanks to a pair of triples and a couple of trips to the free-throw line. Jordan Poole, who played all 12 minutes of the quarter, scored six while also adding a pair of steals on the defensive end. One surprising contributor was Gary Payton II, a guard who before the game had 10 seconds — yes, seconds — of playing time this season. The Mitten played over 17 minutes including seven in the fourth, hitting a pair of threes to help secure the win.

With neither Curry nor Draymond Green scoring in the fourth quarter against OKC, Wiggins and Poole once again came to the rescue. The duo scored six points each while going a combined 6-for-10 from the field. But two other reserves also stepped up. The first, Damion Lee, added five points and hit his lone three-point attempt. In addition, Juan Toscano-Anderson made a three and converted a pair of free throws. While those five points were all JTA scored for the game, Lee’s five were part of the 20 he ended up contributing, his fourth straight game in double figures.

The Golden State Warriors look like a complete team

The Warriors’ record largely speaks for itself, as only the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz can say they’ve made it through the first week without a loss. They can thank Wiggins, Poole, and Lee, all of whom average between 14 and 17 points per game. That trio, combined with Curry, helps Golden State sit fifth in points per game and second in assists.

Collectively, the bench has been a huge bright spot. After the reserves scored 55 points in Golden State’s season-opening win against the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Steve Kerr offered an effusive statement.

“It just feels like five or six years ago,” Kerr told The Mercury News. “When we just had guys up and down the roster who could play. … We’ve got vets coming off the bench who just know how to play [and] know how to win.”

“We’ve got a lot of depth,” Green also said after the Lakers game. “When we’ve had those teams with a lot of depth, we’ve done well. So that’s a good thing for us.”

This Golden State team is a long way from challenging the championship teams of yesteryear. But they’ve looked good even when number 30 goes cold. At this rate, with Klay Thompson also waiting to make his return, it’s a matter of time before Stephen Curry and his underrated Warriors teammates are back in the NBA Finals conversation.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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