Throughout his illustrious NBA career, Steph Curry has had a habit of making out-of-control passes.
Some of those passes find their mark and the others have found a defender for a turnover. That’s the risk and reward Curry plays with.
In the Warriors’ 112-87 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday at Chase Center, Curry turned a moment of chaos into one of the signature plays of the series opener.
Less than three minutes into the third quarter, with the Warriors having pushed their lead to 14, Curry dribbled into the right corner, where Luka Dončić and Dorian Finney-Smith tried to trap him. The two-time NBA MVP flipped the ball backwards over his head, intending to get the ball to Kevon Looney.
Except the pass sailed over Looney’s head. Luckily for Curry and the Warriors, Draymond Green was there to collect the loose ball.
“That’s what I do,” Curry told reporters after the game. “Throw wild passes.”
As Green got the ball, Curry circled back and Looney set a brick-wall screen on Finney-Smith, allowing the greatest shooter in NBA history to find enough space to turn and nail a 3-pointer.
At that point, with a 17-point lead, Curry decided it was the perfect time to bust out a celebratory dance.
“It was a longshot pass,” Curry said. “I just talked to [Green] in the locker room just a minute ago. When I threw it and I looked back and I saw it was not going anywhere near Loon, who I was trying to throw it to and I saw Draymond save it, sigh of relief on that one. But the way we play, once you get the first pass, they had two guys on me and then we have more actions to follow, that’s what we’ve been doing for years and there’s a chemistry to that. Good things usually happen.
“And especially the way they tried to take away the 3-point line on the initial attack. We had Loon setting the nice down-screen for me to get a shot, we had guys cutting on the backside on other possessions, so great chemistry in terms of creating offense that way. Minus the behind-the-head pass.”
Even Warriors coach Steve Kerr had to have some fun with Curry’s wayward pass.
“Yeah, we work on that play,” Kerr said with a laugh. “It’s called ‘Looping Pass 2.'”
The play worked because Curry, Looney and Green have played together for so long. When a sequence breaks down, they have a way of making something out of nothing.
When Curry gives up the ball on the offense, he never stops moving and that’s what happened on this particular play. When the Mavericks defense let down their guard, he relocated, Green knew where he was going to go and found his longtime teammate for a backbreaking 3-pointer.
“Those guys have a synergy from playing together for a decade,” Kerr told reporters. “Klay [Thompson] as well. There’s a lot of value in that. Draymond has always sort of been the fulcrum of our offense as a passer, screener. He sees the floor so well, he sees those guys working off the ball, he sees the backdoor cuts, so that was an example of those guys just knowing each other well and Draymond knowing exactly what Steph was going to do.
“If I’m not mistaken, I think Looney set a pin-down for him after that pass came back out to Draymond. So you can put Looney there as well. There’s a lot of continuity with our team. That’s important. Guys read each other well.”
Curry went on to finish the win with a game-high 21 points, 12 rebounds and one wild pass that led to a dagger 3-pointer.