Many teams might carry stronger stars, but none come close when Curry and Lee are in sync.
Golden State kept Miami on its heels, topping the defending NBA champion Heat in a 123-114 victory. The Heat, who normally hold opponents to 98.3 points per game, succumbed to the Warriors' swift offensive tempo and couldn't contain their scorers.
Heat have no answer for Curry and Lee as Warriors cruise to 7th straight win. BOX SCORE: http://t.co/Y0DYC8KC1q— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 3, 2014
Curry and Lee were the stars in this game, outplaying the intimidating Miami defense that has led the team to three straight NBA Finals appearances. Curry was up to his usual tricks, putting up 36 points (8-of-15 three-point field goals) and 12 assists with four steals and four turnovers.
Lee posted another double-double—tying for sixth in the league in that category—with 32 points and 14 rebounds, consistently exploiting the Heat's defensive strategy.
Miami likes to play a free-flowing zone to keep screening big men on the perimeter, but Lee's ball-handling and footwork saw him score in the paint time and time again.
As mentioned earlier, a multitude of teams have pairings that cause trouble. You can look to the Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade or the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Every contender has at least two pieces to build around, but Curry and Lee are in a league of their own.
This Golden State duo might not match up against others when fully broken down, but the fact that it's an actual pairing separates it from the pack. Curry and Lee play off each other, with the former's outside shooting perfectly complementing the latter's inside capabilities.
The James/Wade or Durant/Westbrook combos are nigh unstoppable, but they don't quite sync up the same way. Having two All-Star players on the roster is terrific, but it's very different from having two All-Stars that play in a linked format.
It's consistently a "pick your poison" decision for defenses when facing the Warriors. Without being dismissive, the same can be said for the previously mentioned duos as well.
However, none are run in offensive sets quite the same way.
According to NBA.com, Curry has assisted on 86 of the 254 field goals Lee has made this season. That's a shade under 30 percent of Lee's scoring coming with help from his point guard. Synergy Sports Technology (subscription required) has Curry pegged as the pick-and-roll ball-handler 38.8 percent of the time in the Warriors offense.
He shoots 41.9 percent on field goals in the same play (39.1 percent from three), with Lee shooting 46.6 percent as the pick-and-roll man (20.4 percent of the time).
Obviously neither of those percentages solely reflect Curry and Lee's performance in the offense. They do, however, paint a reasonably clear picture of how they correspond on the court.
As seen against the Heat, both played off each other well. Of Curry's 12 assists, six were for shots made by Lee.
Curry is very likely to make his first All-Star appearance this season, averaging 23.4 points and 9.6 assists per game. Lee, who represented the Warriors last season, is putting up 18.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Individually, both players are amongst the top at their respective positions. But as a combination, Curry and Lee have opposing defenses shaking their heads. It's difficult to contain either one, let alone when both are synchronized like they were against Miami.
Warriors become the first Western Conference team to beat the Heat on their own home floor since...the Warriors (last season). Not bad guys.— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) January 3, 2014
Depending on how the voting works out, Golden State could realistically have both players representing the city during All-Star Weekend. According to Basketball Reference, it would be the first time since the 1992-93 season—when Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin were selected—that the Warriors accomplish such a feat.
Coach Mark Jackson expressed his confidence in Curry's selection when speaking with the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), saying "If he doesn't make the All-Star team, I might retire."
Here's to hoping Lee is selected as well, as it would give the Warriors a chance to show off the league's best one-two punch in front of the entire NBA community.