With Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., two of the Dallas Mavericks’ starters, sidelined for the time being, the door is open for other players to step up in their absence. Thursday, Seth Curry answered the call in Dallas’ 123-111 win over the Brooklyn Nets. In a game that the Mavericks need to win to end a two-game losing skid, he gave them a much needed boost off the bench.
Curry dropped 25 points in just over 31 minutes and shot the ball extremely efficiently. He was 9-13 overall, 69.2 percent, and 5-5 from deep. Even though he only totaled one assist on the night, Curry kept the ball moving. He also garnered praise for his defensive efforts.
“He was great, he was great,” head coach Rick Carlisle said of Curry’s performance. “At the beginning of the game, we had struggles. He came in and gave us shot-making, play-making right away. Defensively, he was real solid all night long.
“You know, the style we play offensively is very empowered to the players. They get a guy like Seth that’s hot, they continue to find him. The players did a great job of keeping him in rhythm. The real trick was trying to keep him rested enough so that he could finish the game.”
As the Mavericks continue to weather the storm without Porzingis and Hardaway, they need this particular Curry to show up. Unfortunately, he’s been inconsistent this season when it comes to scoring the ball. His percentages are good, he’s shooting 44.9 percent overall and 41 percent on three-pointers, but he hasn’t really put together a string of quality performances. Luckily, that hasn’t mattered much yet.
As Dallas works its way through the schedule, it’s shown the uncanny ability to call on any number of role players to rise to the occasion and provide a boost on a nightly basis. The whole roster has benefited at one point or another and that phenomenon has become one of the Mavericks’ greatest strengths thus far.
“We got a lot of talent that’s spread out,” Curry said. “Most of the time, it’s unpredictable. A lot of guys can make plays. You never know who gets the touches or the shots that night other than Luka. It’s fun to play. Every night, it seems like somebody different is making a big impact.”
Thursday, it was Curry’s latest turn to fill that role, but that’s not why he’s here. Thanks to his reputation as a high percentage shooter, he was signed to be a go-to offensive presence. However, his return to the Mavericks has been a roller coaster so far. For example, prior to playing the Nets, he scored 16 points on 6-24 shooting in two games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder combined.
It’s been feast or famine for Curry for much of the season. He has more single-digit scoring nights, 17, that double-digit ones, 15. But things may be turning around. His 25-point outburst against the Nets was the eighth time he’s scored at least 11 points dating back to December 1. In that 16-game stretch, he’s also had games of 19, 30, 26, 20, and 17 points. That’s good news for the Mavericks, especially now that they are down two key players.
There’s no timetable for the starters to return from injury yet. A report indicates that Porzingis may be back sooner rather than later. Hardaway’s condition is murkier, although he’s participating in light shooting exercises. As for Curry, he isn’t letting the added pressure of filling in for his injured teammates change his approach to the game.
“I just play the same, play with the same aggressiveness with the ball,” Curry said. “It finds me, make plays, knock down shots, and create havoc on the defensive end.”
Curry’s right. He doesn’t have to do anything differently. With the way the offense is structured, he can still work within its flow, find shots, and create for others. He doesn’t have to be the “next man up” every night, but maybe he should consider it. There’s an offensive void left by the absence of Porzingis and Hardaway, and Curry is perhaps the player best poised to fill it.
If his game against the Nets is any indication, Curry has the ability to seize a bigger role. In order to take some pressure of Luka Doncic, someone on the roster needs to step up and become a secondary scoring option. As Curry smooths out his ups and downs and finds some consistency, there’s no reason he can’t assert himself as a focal point in the Mavericks’ high-powered offense.