After the 76ers shootaround on Tuesday, guard Seth Curry said his conditioning was a “work in progress,” after a bout with COVID-19.
Later that evening, he had his best game since returning from his illness. Curry scored 22 points and provided early offense when the Sixers needed it most in their 119-111 win over the host Sacramento Kings.
How big an effort was this?
Curry scored two more points than he did in his previous four games combined.
“I am getting my legs back a little bit,” Curry said during his postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I am putting a lot of work in the weight room and the court, trying to get my flow back.”
Curry had missed seven straight games, including the final six after testing positive for COVID-19, before returning to the lineup for a Jan. 22 win over the visiting Boston Celtics.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he was encouraged by the fact that the Sixers recognized Curry had it going and were looking for him, especially Joel Embiid. Three of Embiid’s season-high six assists came on Curry baskets.
“Joel hadn’t shot the ball a couple of times [down the court] and he runs down, he is running a ‘loop two,’ which is one of our sets for Seth,” Rivers said. “That just tells you where the team is at right now, like they see a guy got it going and they feed him and they want him to keep it going.”
In Curry’s first two games back, he scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. In the next six, he averaged just six points and shot 25% from three-point range. In the final two of those games, he went scoreless.
Against the Kings, he shot 7-for-13, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, and made all four of his free throws.
In the first half, especially, Curry kept the Sixers in the game with 16 points, shooting 5-for-9, including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. The Sixers trailed by 71-66 at halftime.
“He kind of saved us in the first half,” Rivers said. “It looked like him and Ben [Simmons] were the only two that had good rhythm early on.”
Simmons scored nine points of his 14 points in the first half, hitting 4 of 6 shots.
Curry hit both his three-point attempts in the third quarter. He went scoreless and played only 1 minute and 31 seconds in the fourth quarter, as Matisse Thybulle was used for his defense against De’Aaron Fox.
“He is a big part of this team,” Simmons said of Curry. “When he comes out hitting shots like that, it is great and you want to get him into a rhythm.”
Despite his recent slump, Curry is still hitting 50.7% of his three-point attempts (38-for-75). That is No. 1 in the NBA for players who have attempted at least 60 threes. He has also hit all 30 of his free throws.
The Sixers (18-7) will visit Portland on Thursday and will be looking for revenge after last Thursday’s 121-105 home loss to the Trail Blazers. In that game, Curry played only 12:05 and went scoreless. He didn’t return after halftime because he was feeling ill.
“This is another test for us, another good team with a lot of offense that is playing well right now,” Curry said. “So we got to get our rest and be ready to go.”