HOUSTON -- The Golden State Warriors are convinced that star guard Stephen Curry will break out of a series-long slump heading into Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Houston Rockets.
"I think Steph has a good balance of beating himself up and just moving on with life," Warriors forward Draymond Green said on Sunday. "And I think that's important. It's part of the reason he's the shooter that he is. I think if you talk to anyone who plays basketball, the toughest thing is to miss shots and keep shooting. Your confidence wavers, you start to think -- Steph will miss four in a row and then heat-check the fifth one. Like from 35 feet. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it [works] for him. So I know he don't make too much off it. As a competitor I know he's pissed with himself and I think that will bode well for us. Probably it's going to lead to some aggressiveness, and we like when he's aggressive so I think he'll be fine."
Curry played arguably his worst game of the season during a 126-121 overtime loss in Game 3 on Saturday night, shooting just 7-for-23 from the field and missing a wide-open breakaway dunk with 19.2 seconds in overtime that left fans and players stunned. Curry, who dislocated the middle finger on his left hand in the first quarter of Game 2, has brushed aside talk of the injury bothering him, despite the fact that he has had to tape his middle finger and his ring finger together since the injury.
He comes into Game 4 18-for-52 from the field in this series, including only 8-for-32 from beyond the arc.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a quick answer ready when asked how Curry responds after a bad game.
"He usually has a good game," Kerr said.
Kerr doesn't expect the two-time MVP to change anything up heading into Monday night.
"He's just really, really competitive and he gets locked in, and he gets a little bit angry," Kerr said. "And he comes out with a lot of focus and a lot of fight, so that's what we're expecting [Monday]."
Green echoed the sentiment, saying that he didn't think Curry needed any extra words of encouragement after a rough start to the series.
"I think at times you do," Green said. "And at times you just kind of feel it. Like you can feel when someone needs you, and you can just kind of feel like, 'He got it,' Like who's not saying anything? ... If you're asking me if you say something now, I don't think so."
Kerr said he would continue to have the same regular conversations he has with Curry throughout the season. There is no hint of panic from the Warriors' perspective because of Curry's struggles. They have watched him break out of a slump too many times to think this one will last much longer.
"We've known each other for so long now it's not like, 'Hey, come to my office.' or 'I want to meet you,'" Kerr said. "We just chat. We just chat in passing. There's nothing planned, but my job as a coach is to help the players succeed, give them a little idea what they can do to maybe make an impact in one area or another. So those conversations happen all the time."
Of course, it's easier to handle Curry's slump while watching Kevin Durant continue to dominate offensively the way he has this postseason. Durant enters Game 4 averaging 35.6 points in the postseason, while shooting 51.5 percent from the field.
"I don't really understand what he's doing right now either," Green said with a smile of Durant's performance. "It's pretty amazing, obviously, for us to have that option. Just kind of give somebody the ball and get the hell out of the way. It's definitely beneficial for us, so for him to take over the game like he did in the third quarter, there's not much a defense can do. That's good for us, but I can't really tell you what Kevin is doing, scoring whenever he wants to."
Aside from Durant's brilliance, the other good news for the Warriors is that Kerr said Sunday that injured center Damian Jones will be cleared for contact next week. Jones has been out since Dec. 1 after tearing his left pectoral muscle. Kerr left open the possibility that both Jones and DeMarcus Cousins (torn quad) could still return in the postseason if they continue progressing during their rehab.