Defending Stephen Curry looks different this season than it has in years past, and Damian Lillard is taking note.
Speaking on “Warriors Pregame Live” before facing Curry’s Golden State Warriors on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers star Lillard commented on the increased difficulties that Curry has been facing on offense thus far.
“With the injuries the Warriors are dealing with and Steph playing with a younger team right now, he’s seeing that it’s tough to get those quality looks right now,” said Lillard. “It’s different than what it’s looked like the last four or five years for him. He’s trying to get quality looks and get a clean look so he can make a good one. He don’t really have that luxury to just take one from that deep just to be taking it.”
"He's seeing that it's tough to get those quality looks right now… It's different than what it's looked like the last 4-5 years."
– Dame Lillard on Steph Curry pic.twitter.com/oQutiosRZP
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 2, 2021
Lillard’s comments attracted some controversy with some interpreting it as shade towards Curry, Lillard’s longtime Western Conference rival.
Steph has always been the main focus of the defense. Why Dame acting brand new
— borinqui (@amcboricua) January 2, 2021
Lillard and the Blazers would go on to defeat Curry and the Warriors in a 123-98 blowout Friday. When asked about Lillard’s remarks on Saturday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr actually agreed.
“Damian Lillard was right to say that,” said Kerr, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. “They did a good job taking him out. Now, we need to do a better job of putting him in better positions.”
Curry, the two-time MVP, is still averaging 26.4 points and 6.6 assists per game this season. But his 42.0 percent shooting from the field (including 32.1 percent from deep) is well below his career average. The Warriors are also now 2-3 to start the 2020-21 campaign.
Truth be told, Lillard’s comments were not particularly antagonistic. It is obviously a lot easier for opponents to help off Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre to contain Curry than it was for them to help off Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. In fact, one of Curry’s former teammates even made some similar comments about the state of affairs for Curry this season.