On a night his brother Seth Curry led the Dallas Mavericks to a win with 29 points, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry had his worst shooting night of the season, going 0-for-11 from outside the arc in a road win over the 76ers.
On Tuesday's episode of Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless reacted to Curry's off night, and debated whether Curry will ever again be able to live up to his billing as the only unanimous MVP.
Skip: It's time for Steph to prove he's the MVP in the playoffs
"[Steph is under] Enormous pressure. Growing pressure. Pressure that’s coming down the pike at Steph Curry like LeBron James flies down the lane and dunks. That’s the kind of pressure that’s coming at Steph, because in the last two playoffs, I must admit, Steph Curry has not lived up to his back-to-back MVPs, and I think it is starting to hurt his legacy.
This time, even I am going to be the first to say here on Undisputed, he should not get any sort of pass for what happens in these playoffs, because it’s on Steph Curry.
This is difficult for me to talk about… because I don’t know Steph Curry, but I’ve been his biggest fan because - I remind you - I was his campaign manager before his draft. I said that Steph should go No. 1 in the draft ahead of Blake Griffin."
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: Steph hasn't played like an MVP in the playoffs yet
"Then the last two Finals happened. In the first Final, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, I must admit… Andre Iguodala was the MVP over Steph Curry? Of the Finals? Are you kidding me? And he deserved it!
And then in last year’s Finals, I’ve looked hard at this. Let’s say somehow Golden State had managed to win Game 7 at Golden State. Who would the MVP have been? I think [it would be Draymond Green]. Although he got suspended, so would that have disqualified him MVP? By the numbers, Draymond was their best player. By the way, in the Game 7, Draymond had 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. That’s a pretty great Game 7.
… And I kept waiting, because Steph had a knee issue that plagued him throughout the playoffs. Remember the Portland series, it happened against Houston. I actually hoped he was going to have offseason surgery just to validate the excuse that he had a knee injury. He did not have any offseason surgery, so I couldn’t even use that as an excuse."
Skip: People don't judge Steph the same way they judge LeBron
"So all of a sudden we come down to ‘wait a second, should I be holding Steph to the same standards I hold LeBron James?’ Well, sure I should if he won back-to-back MVPs.
Even though he’s regarded as sort of ‘everyman,’ the little babyfaced assassin, he’s kind of like the player next door. Everyone can relate to Steph because he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 190. I don’t think he’s either of the above."
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Steph is expected to achieve the impossible
"Skip, he is under a lot of pressure, but if you really go back and look at his first finals, his numbers right were on par to what he finished in the regular season. He just didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor. He didn’t have that game where you’re like ‘OK, that’s Steph.’
Now last year he was down eight points a game. He was shooting 10 percent less from the field, five percent less from three. And then when you look at it, he was a unanimous MVP. You think about all the guys that have won that award multiple times. Kareem has six, not unanimous. Michael has five. Chamberlain and LeBron, never unanimous. So that’s what he’s trying to live up to.
Skip, I think the thing is it’s unrealistic also. Because if you look at when he set the record with 272 threes, and then he went to 286, and then he went to 402. That’s unrealistic. You think he’s going to go to 450 and then 500? At some point in time, as coach Saban likes to say, ‘trees don’t grow to the sky.’ There has to be a limit. He’s on pace this year to make 322 threes, which would be the second-most all time.
It’s because he’s the greatest shooter that we’ve seen. He can shoot off the dribble, he can shoot from distance - and it’s like when he shoots the three, you automatically expect it to go in."
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Kevin Durant is there to take the pressure off of Steph
"It’s unrealistic, and I think the thing is that the players don’t respect him. Because when he won his first MVP, the players voted James Harden the MVP. The young, young fans now, they love him because they can relate to him. He’s like the common guy… he doesn’t play the game above the rim like Michael. He doesn’t have the power like a LeBron, he doesn’t have the brute strength of a Shaq. He’s not elegant and graceful like Kobe and Michael. He just shoots the ball.
…. Now he had KD. When you look at it, if he has a bad game, they can still win. Whereas before, if he had a bad game, an 0-for-11 or 0-for-10 from three, they weren’t winning that game with Harrison Barnes! But you’ve got KD now, the second-best player in the league, so he can bring him up."
"I’m going to give you this. Steph Curry has become a victim of his two last years, which were the two greatest shooting years we’ve ever seen. They’re so great that they’re off the charts great. We thought no human could shoot the basketball that consistently for an entire NBA regular season.
Last year they obviously lost a mere nine games, and in two of those losses he went 1-for-10 at the Lakers and at San Antonio he went 1-for-12 as Klay went 1-for-7 against my Spurs. That’s the only way they’re going to lose.
The truth is, the pressure on Steph is enormous because a lot of times they go as he goes. Because he can incite their crowd, or he can take the away crowd out of the game, by making early threes.
Here’s the other thing that dawned on me just before the show. We’ve been all over LeBron obviously for years… ‘why did you have to join forces with Dwyane and Chris Bosh?’ We’ve looked at Kevin’s choice that he made to leave Westbrook and ‘I’m going to go join forces with them.’ But we never really looked at it from Steph’s perspective, because he is the best player on the Golden State Warriors, right?
Why didn’t anyone hold Steph’s Under Armour feet to the fire? Why wouldn’t Steph say… if he’s Jordanesque he would say ‘I don’t want Kevin Durant, I don’t need Kevin Durant.’ I’m just telling you that now that I step back and think about it, I lose a little bit of respect for Steph. He should have said ‘hey, I can do this with the group we have. Let’s keep Bogut, let’s keep Ezeli. Let’s go back and right the wrong that was Draymond getting suspended and us blowing a 3-1 lead.’"