Steph puts on Team USA show but sees simplicity as best path to gold

Steph puts on Team USA show but sees simplicity as best path to gold originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

LAS VEGAS – Steph Curry’s superhero cape became torn, tattered and worn down to its final threads the last few seasons, carrying the Warriors to a fourth NBA championship in 2022 but seeing the franchise’s sovereignty fall by the wayside each of the past two years. Surrounded by fellow champions, MVPs and All-NBA players on Team USA will create a world for Curry closer to the Supervillains era of the Warriors, as first seen Wednesday night at the T-Mobile Center in an 86-72 exhibition win against Canada.

The biggest adjustment Curry is noticing he will have to make in his first Olympics might come as a surprise.

“The different shots you’re going to get,” Curry said after Team USA’s win.

Miami Heat head coach and current Team USA assistant coach Erik Spoelstra recently gave this group of the game’s giants a reminder of that exact fact Curry witnessed against a strong Canadian team. Every person on the team is a high-usage player used to having the ball in their hands, creating and knowing where the defense is.

Highlights will come in bunches. Viral moments are inevitable. Simplicity, however, is what will lead to a goal medal.

“On this team, catch and shoot, simple shots, you got to be able to knock them down,” Curry continued. “You don’t know how many you’re going to get, you don’t know when they’re going to come.”

Yet still, Curry found plenty of ways to please the crowd.

There was his fastbreak alley-oop delivered to LeBron James that had a packed crowd featuring President Barack Obama and some of the biggest names in men’s and women’s basketball history ready for more. Every time Curry was in position to unleash a 3-pointer, fans were ready to roar. Aside from the screams and cheers for Obama, the biggest rush of excitement for the fans might have been from a Curry layup as he caught fire to start the second half.

Curry at the top of the 3-point line with Oklahoma City Thunder MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, hesitated and blew by him. For reasons he only knows, longtime Warriors rival Dillon Brooks then abruptly stook his right foot out, to which Curry tripped but kept his balance enough to continue his path to the hoop.

Recovering too late from behind, Gilgeous-Alexander fouled Curry in the air as the ball bounced off the glass and swished through the net for two points.

Pose. Smile for the camera. A Curry special.

“Just having fun,” Curry said. “I obviously got to the basket and I slid across. I was trying to get back up, but I got stuck so I went with the pose and gave myself a second to get back up. You know I like to have fun and enjoy myself.

“Didn’t take me long to find an opportunity tonight.”

Getting used to playing alongside a brand-new group also was evident, especially early on as Team USA’s offense struggled after the opening tip. Chemistry being closer to combustion than a science fair winner even happened for Curry and James.

At one point, the two were standing directly next to each in the right corner. Curry looked at James, who didn’t seem to know Steph was going to be there. It can take months, or even years, to get used to playing and excelling as Curry’s teammate for how uniquely he uses every inch of the court.

But none of that is a concern to Curry. He has seen enough from practice, scrimmages and the stretches Team USA looked unstoppable to feel like spacing is the least of their problems.

“The spacing is great,” Curry says. “We’ve been getting great shots this whole time playing against the Select Team, playing against ourselves and against Canada. That’s been consistent. It’s just a moment of if we can knock them down.

“And then just try to make each possession on offense a little smoother, knowing what we’re trying to get into. That’ll come. We just got to be able to knock down shots. That’s going to be the name of the game, especially when games get tight.”

Curry scored 12 points in 19 and a half minutes, making him Team USA’s second-leading scorer behind Anthony Edwards’ 13 points. Curry shot 57.1 percent from the field (4 of 7) and 50 percent from three (3 of 6). Team USA as a whole made 50.7 percent of their shots, but just 30.7 percent of their threes, as the rest of the group connected for only four treys on the night.

The first nine points of the third quarter for Team USA belonged to Curry, including his highlights that set social media ablaze. Get used to more of that.

Playing in his first Olympics is an invitation to head-shaking sequences. To reach the goal of gold, the only honor missing from Curry’s storied career, he also knows simplicity will be Team USA’s best answer facing many major tests along their road to glory.

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