Following an unforgettable championship run by his Golden State Warriors, reigning MVP Stephen Curry is remarkably exceeding expectations so far in 2015-16.
The high-scoring guard, however, could find the going a bit tougher against the defensive-minded Memphis Grizzlies.
In their first meeting since the Grizzlies gave them a scare in the Western Conference semifinals, the Warriors seek a franchise-record 20th straight home win Monday night.
Curry was sixth in the league last season with 23.8 points per game, third in 3-point shooting at 44.3 percent and first in foul shooting at 91.4 percent, yet somehow the seventh-year pro has been even better through the first three games. He’s averaging 39.3 points, has hit 17 of 35 (48.6 percent) 3-point attempts and 21 of 22 (95.5) free throws.
He finished with 53 points – including a career high for a quarter with 28 in the third – in Saturday’s 134-120 win over New Orleans. Curry sank eight 3s and made all 11 of his attempts from the stripe while also contributing nine assists and four steals.
Curry is just the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 118 points in the first three games of a season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Jerry West.
"You just get better as a player and try to take it to another level," he said. "So that’s what I’m trying to do this year."
The Warriors (3-0) will try to break the team mark for consecutive home wins, which was set from Dec. 14-Jan. 25 last season. The Grizzlies (2-1), however, are one of only three visitors to win in the past 50 games at Oracle Arena, including the postseason.
That win came by a 97-90 score in Game 2 of the conference semifinals. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee helped slow Curry while the Grizzlies gained a surprising 2-1 series edge.
Curry averaged 21.3 points and shot 8 of 29 from 3-point range in those contests before scoring 27.7 per game and sinking 18 of 35 from downtown as the Warriors closed out the series with three straight victories.
Memphis (2-1) has finished in the top five in defensive scoring in each of the past four years, but is giving up 100.0 points per game on 48.1 percent shooting this season.Golden State has averaged 119.0 on 47.6 percent shooting, including 40.7 from long range.
Conley led the way with 22 points – including a 4-of-7 performance from outside the arc – and eight assists, while Zach Randolph had 15 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 101-91 home win over Brooklyn.
Memphis has shot 16 of 39 (41.0 percent) from 3-point range in back-to-back wins after going 2 for 16 in Wednesday’s 106-76 loss to Cleveland. The Warriors, however, have limited their opponents to just 30.2 percent shooting from long distance.
"When we’re making shots from the outside, I think we’re a tough team to beat," Conley said. "The league knows that, and we’ve just got to find more consistency with it."
Marc Gasol banged his right hand, jammed two fingers and finished with just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. The All-Star center averaged 19.2 points but shot just 37.6 percent to go along with 11.2 rebounds versus Golden State in last season’s playoffs.
Klay Thompson hasn’t played more than 28 minutes for the Warriors due to an ailing back.