Thoughts on the NBA’s Western Conference Finals
Back on February 27th, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors played in what was probably the best game of this year’s NBA season. Five Western Conference All Stars competed. OKC’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 37 and 26 while Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson went for 46 and 32. The fifth all star, the Warriors’ Draymond Green, had fourteen rebounds, fourteen assists, six steals, and four blocked shots. Although the Warriors trailed by seven points with less than five minutes to go and by four with fourteen seconds left in regulation, they still managed to win in overtime on a long Curry three-point shot he stroked from beyond thirty feet with less than a second remaining.
I recently took a look back at the game and came up with a few ideas for slowing down the two-time reigning MVP.
1. Crowd Curry When He Has The Ball
Just about everyone gives Curry space believing that this will help contain his drive. If Curry has any room at all, he will unleash his pregame warm up on the defender in varying combinations. Against Singler, Curry goes between his legs into a crossover dribble, between the legs again, crosses over, and then crosses over one last time before stepping back for what seems like an impossible shot. While Curry will hurt teams with his drives, at least he won’t make twelve threes.
2. Make Curry Pick Up The Dag Gum Ball
Every chance Curry gets, he’ll let the ball roll up the court without touching it. This allows for the Warriors to maximize all of the time on the shot clock. During the OKC / Warriors game back in February, there were several times Curry didn’t pick up the ball until it was near mid court.
3. Attack Curry on Defense Whenever You Can
Sure, it’s old news to make the star offensive player work on defense, but OKC needs to do this even more. It’s not just attacking him 1 on 1 as Westbrook does above, but I’d try and put him in as many screen situations as possible. Who Curry guards should be screening for the ball or a shooter on a downscreen. During the regular season match up, Curry spent too many defensive possessions standing in the corner doing nothing.
4. When You Attack Curry, Be Prepared for Lots of Help
You’ve got to do more than isolate Curry; you have to plan for where the help is going to come from. The Warriors usually defend isolation plays by putting every single player in the lane and this often causes Westbrook or Durant to call off the attack, kick the ball to a low percentage shooter, or attack too deeply into a double team that often brings Warriors center Andrew Bogut, once an all NBA defensive team selection. Recently, instead of putting their big men in the corner, OKC has been filling both blocks for offensive rebounds and lob dunks.
5. Don’t Switch
Double team Curry on high ball screens if you have to, otherwise you’re going to see a lot of what is pictured above.
Of late, OKC has had a lot more ball movement on offense and made use of their players NOT Durant and Westbrook. I’m looking forward to seeing how OKC tries to defend Curry when he has the ball and the ways they try to make him work on defense. It should be a great series!