How Stephen Curry’s ‘maple syrup’ perfection surprised the Celtics

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser received a Christmas present a few years ago, a bottle of 100% pure Canadian maple syrup.

“I put it on my pancakes and it was incredible,” recalls Fraser. “Pure, right? One hundred percent maple. I told Steph (Curry) about it. I said, ‘It reminds me of your jumper. “

“Sometimes, when his shot is super pure and you can feel it — it’s not hitting the rim, the spin is perfect, the spin, the right arc, everything in the universe is right for Steph — I’ll just Say, ‘maple syrup,’ and he’ll smile.”

You know the story. Stephen Curry treated the Boston Celtics like they were a big stack. In his 43-point age performance in Game 4 of the Finals, you won’t see pancakes in syrup.

Curry’s performance throughout the playoffs, including defense, has taken him to a new level of basketball, and no one is more pleased with Curry, or more proud, than Frazier.

One of his tasks is to work with Curry when he shoots — before practice, after practice, before games. They’ve been a team since 2014, when Steve Kerr was hired as head coach and hired Frazier as one of his assistants and assigned him to join Curry and Klay Thompson Work. Soon, it’s just Curry.

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and assistant coach Bruce Frazier warm up with the Denver Nuggets before the NBA Western Conference No. 1 at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, Wednesday, April 27, 2022 Game 5 of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets.

Scott Strazant/Chronicles

Frazier was known as the Q because in college he asked a lot of questions and gave Curry countless passes, give and take. They have built a close relationship and mutual trust. After watching countless shots, Frazier can spot minor flaws and suggest fine-tuning to Curry’s technique. Fraser will also provide in-game observations and advice. Sometimes they just share laughter.

So Frazier was the perfect tour guide who agreed to take us to the Finals, giving a Curry-centric inside image, including sneaking peeks at team parties after games.

The Warriors entered the Finals with their eyes wide open, Frazier said.

“We knew from the first game that we could feel their power and skill,” Fraser said. “We can feel how good they are. We know it’s going to be the toughest opponent to play against so far.”

The Celtics had the league’s No. 1 defense in the regular season. They do it physically, and in the finals, the referees tend to be more relaxed and allow more contact. The Celtics had the upper hand.

“They wanted to punish Stephen, wear him out, do it physically, put their hands on him and let the referee call the shots,” Fraser said. “Without space, it will never be comfortable. He can’t be the one to beat us Probably their strategy. Not only is Marcus Smart good, Jaylen Brown is strong and long, and so is (Jason) Tatum. “

Has Curry ever complained to the referee?

“I hope he will. I Complaining, but my voice is not his. …I actually complained to (referee) Kane Fitzgerald a game during a timeout. On one shot, Tatum hit Steph with his body, shoved him, and then hit his wrist on the shot.

“I said, ‘Kane, Stephen got hit.’ He was like, ‘How do you know?’ because he only complained when it was really bad. I’ve been with him for a long time, and I know that about him. He has no complaints about his standing in the league. Kane said, ‘No, you’re right. It’s a good thing for him. I said, ‘Okay, you should rewatch those shots because he got hit. He was like, ‘It’s on. ‘”

Curry set an NBA career record for 3s in mid-December before falling into a prolonged shooting slump. With a month left in the regular season, he’s getting out of the woods, hurting his foot and having been knocked out of the past 12 games. Frazier said he came back at the start of the playoffs and was ready.

“It’s the most focused I’ve seen him in the playoffs. I can only Look it. If not a horse whisperer, I can see it in his way: his eyes, his attention to detail in film sessions, his voice in those sessions, and his voice in our training sessions and competitions Focus. you can see it.

“I saw more detail on what he wanted to do before and after practice. …He was very, very mindful of what he wanted in those drills and was open to what I added. …I Feeling a level of focus that I don’t know how to express, other than feeling his intensity…will lead to what he has to do in the game.”

Game 4 is crucial. If the Celtics win, they’ll go 3-1, which could dash any hopes of a Dubs comeback. Before the game, Frazier was asked what Curry looked like when he warmed up.

“I just said, ‘He’s focused.’ They kind of looked at me and I said, ‘He’s locked in.’ “I knew he was going to have a game.”

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