Warriors vs. Cavaliers: How Cavs Will Defend Steph Curry
June 2, 2015
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We’re getting closer and closer to one of the more anticipated NBA Finals I can remember, as a matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors is must-see television. One of the reasons Golden State is the favorite is due to the insane play of MVP Stephen Curry. He’s the best shooter of all-time and is a nightmare to defend.
If the Cavs are going to win this series, they’ll have to at least contain Curry, limiting his production to a point where it doesn’t break you. While highlights may lead you to believe it’s impossible to prevent Curry from knocking down three after three, there are things you can do to make life difficult for him.
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Here’s how you defend Curry and give yourself a chance to beat the Warriors:
DON’T LEAVE HIM!!!!
One of things that drove me absolutely bonkers in the series against the Houston Rockets was that guys were leaving Curry and not sticking to him. Guys would get caught ball watching or thinking he’s not part of the play, so they would sag off. Curry would then run away, get the ball and, well, the rest is history. You can not leave Curry. Ever. If your job is to defend Curry, you don’t leave his side. If he runs to the other side of the court, you run to the other side of the court. If he goes to the bench, you go to the bench. If he goes to the bathroom, ah, you get the point.
Curry gets his shot off so quickly that just a little bit of space is all he needs. So, unlike other players, you’re not able to react in time to contest his shot if you’re giving him cushion. You have to be side-by-side with Curry at all times or he’s going to kill you.
This Goes For Big Men, Too
The Warriors love to set high ball screens to free Curry for long distance shots. Big men must help when the guard is getting picked. When I see the guy who is guarding Curry getting screened, I have to run up there and help my teammate out. Everybody in the gym knows what Golden State is trying to do when that play is being run, don’t make the final result so easy.
Yes, there’s a chance Curry blows by the big and has a quality look for a layup, but I take that everyday of the week over an open three he’s likely going to make. Threes are not only more points than a two (durh), but they also do wonders for a team's confidence and get the crowd in it a lot more. You want to limit the amount of momentum plays.
Don’t. Leave. Curry.
Run Him Off The Line
Forget letting Curry put on a dribbling show and knocking the shot down in my face. So far in the playoffs, guys tend to give Curry that extra space because they’re afraid of getting beat off the dribble. That’s what he wants. Curry is such an elite shooter, an open three is just as effective as a dunk for most players.
I rather be overaggressive and have Curry put the ball on the floor than splash long distance shots over and over because I’m scared of giving up a shot at the rim. Heck, that’s why you have bigs in the paint anyway, right? There’s a higher percentage of a missed shot if Curry puts the ball on the floor and drives into the paint, then if you sag off and allow an open deep ball.
Make Curry put the ball on the deck by running him off the line.
Not sure why more teams don’t do this more often, but Curry has turned the ball over quite a bit these playoffs when defenses have trapped him.
Trapping Curry has no negative results for the defense whatsoever. It makes him work harder to get rid of the ball, increases odds of a turnover and gets the ball out of his hands, which is the top priority. Oh, so he finds an open guy who has an open look? Who cares? I’d live with an open Harrison Barnes jumper over Curry lighting me up for 45 points.
Any time the Cavs have a chance to trap Curry, they need to do it.
Deny Him The Ball
The main goal is to keep the ball out of Curry’s hands as much as possible. Curry can not only kill you offensively, but he sets his teammates for open looks as well. Force others to make shots and create offense.
This starts by pressuring Steph in the backcourt and making someone else bring the ball up. Trapping, double-teaming, switching, shadowing, anything to make life difficult and keep the ball out of his hands, you do.
The less time Steph has the ball, even if it’s just a few seconds, the odds of you beating the Warriors should increase.
Make Him Work Defensively
The last tip I have is making Curry work on the defensive end. Have your point guard run around a lot, forcing Steph to chase him all day. Set hard screens to bang up him a bit. Anything to make Curry tired on the defensive end should have a positive result on the offensive side of the ball.
An exhausted Curry will be a lot less aggressive and should see more time on the bench.
Sure, all of these things are easier said than done, but these are the multiple adjustments a team can make to guarantee a least effective Steph Curry and beat the Golden State Warriors.