Getting to Clutch
Or, getting to mundane greatness
Yesterday, I wrote about how a team being good allows the really and truly special players to save their incandescent performances for the important moments. Last night, Steph Curry was aching to get in the game so he could do Steph Curry type things. Over at Golden State, there has been an ongoing conversation about Steve Kerr’s rotations. He prefers to keep Curry fresh for the final run, even when Curry is agitating to get in the game.
DeRozan had just the 21 points, (which is good and useful, but not incandescent) and the truly remarkable performance came from Dejounte Murray. Remember when DJM was an iffy shooter? He always had the gumption and the speed, but he always showed that he was working on his game and getting better. Now, he is a reliable catch-and-shoot threat from anywhere beyond the three point line. Obviously, last night he caught the ball, slipped, then cooked up Andrew Wiggins.
We have written in the space previously about how nice it is to see Dejounte be able to work himself open to get that little rhythm jumper from 12-feet. This is the same footwork, but just ten feet further.
It reminds me of the coaches that talk about “process” a lot. That footwork to get him the open looks that he can reliably knock down opened things up from there. I can see him cooking at the three point line and getting rhythm threes. His speed will open things up for him. Tony Parker’s speed meant that teams gave him lots of space. He worked to develop the jumper to keep them honest and it became a weapon as he slowed a bit.
Murray has a lot of time before his first step is gone, and he will have a long career with that jumper and his length. Right now? We are getting just about the early stages of prime — a guy that can get 4-6 points on steal-and-buckets and 3-4 catch-and-shoot threes. That’s easy money. Add a few possessions of him isolating and getting to the line? You can easily see how he can be come a 20-point scorer on the regular.
Anyway, the Spurs gave up way to many easy dunks to Kelly Oubre, Jr. They were fortunate that Draymond Green overthought the situation and could not make threes. They were fortunate that Dejounte Murray was having a hell of a game. Tonight, the Spurs will have their hands full again.
Curry shook his head with a little smirk at the bad luck that had befell his team. There was Murray getting a clutch three that was — let’s be honest — amazing because it was pretty unexpected. When Curry came down the very next possession and casually knocked down a step-back three it was remarkable in its commonness. He does that all the time and so we are unamazed, and perhaps even frustrated that it could not be stopped.
So, the next step, DJ? Well, knock down clutch jumpers so often that no one thinks much of it.