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Warriors Vs. Rockets: How Stephen Curry became an elephant in the Western Final



Stephen Curry is used to playing basketball in the spotlight. Fans can not keep their eyes off him. Neither can defenders. But what happens in these Western Conference Finals? That is different. This is the model of the still-existing group of people who refuse to drink the Curry Kool-Aid, who will admit that he is a historic shooter, but ultimately sees him as a limited offensive player who can not watch Lunch at the other end.

As a reminder, anyone who refuses to come out of one of these hills has died long ago for his stubborn cause, even if they do not know it. Curry is already an offensive player of all times, even if his career ended tomorrow, and he has proven to be a capable defender, if only as a guy who simply tries to do his job with every ball possession.

This does not mean that Curry's perceived vulnerabilities are not rooted in a semblance of truth, and in the rare instances where those vulnerabilities are dramatically exposed, it can be ugly. Game 2 against Houston, to put it mildly, was ugly. With 1

6 relatively harmless points in the 1: 8 shooting of three Curry had to force the small insult against a Houston defensive block full of long, physical athletes who can change the Golden State with every attempt to free Curry with a screen.

But that was not the biggest problem.

The offense will come, be assured.

Curry's defense is another story.

The simple truth is that curry can not guard James Harden or Chris Paul, and the Rockets know it, and they do everything they can to find and exploit it at every opportunity. They do not care how long it takes to dribble to and fro or run multiple pick-and-roll shots. In one way or another, they will get curry on an island. And when they do, they roast him. In these playoffs Curry has previously given 30 points as the main defender in 24 isolation occupations per Synergy, making him the 12th percentile of all playoff players. Not good.

It is not for lack of effort that you must respect. Curry plays his butt off. Look at this clip below. Watch how hard he fights Harden, then recover to his man, fight through contact, even go down and get up again. But Harden will not let him out of the crosshairs. He finally gets the switch and curry is simply overpowered:

Again, Curry Harden shows hard, but recovers again at Ariza. Instead of letting him off the hook, Harden does the same thing again, and this time he gets the switch. Grilled Chicken:

OK, so nobody really can protect Harden. But what about Paul, to whom curry does not even have to be switched on, since he often starts it? Paul also drops to the ground:

And here again – this time Paul shows Curry the doppelganger, because he not only stuns him from dribbling, but also because Curry goes to him the ground after Paul missed his shot, he just goes in and grabs his own offensive rebound for the easy retreat:

To be fair, Curry is not the only one to be roasted by these guys – especially Harden. To start Game 2, Harden scored his first four baskets by blew straight past Klay Thompson, put a three in Draymond Green's face, and beat Kevin Durant to the brim with two separate pick-and-roll shots. But a unit is only as strong as its weakest link, and when the Warriors play with their Death Line from Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and Durant, it's beyond question who this weak link is. It's curry. And it's a real problem right now. Well, usually, whatever defensive shortcomings (and again, usually they are not so dramatic) Curry presents, they are largely mitigated by his otherworldly offensive explosions. But this does not happen. Curry shoots only 44 percent of the field against Houston, including 2 out of 13 out of three. The energy he uses to defend himself probably has something to do with the fighting. It is possible that he was still a little rusty after missing five weeks with a sprained MCL. As mentioned, the ability of the Rockets to engage him with several long, athletic, physical defenders is certainly a factor.

Curry is not a perfect offensive player. Strong Defenders can stay in front of him and if he is not in a mode where almost anything he throws, no matter how firmly he is guarded, you can contain him. Even bully him. Still, I would argue that Curry's offensive problems with these payouts are going a bit deeper than all these things. After all, the guy's playoff numbers are not just shooting, but across the board, better than Kobe Bryant:

In fact, this is not the first time Curry has seen double teams or long defenders or changed defenses, and he was always in able to perform, even though it does not look quite as pretty or explosive in the harder, physically defended playoffs. What is different this time is Durant.

It's hard to criticize the Warriors for carrying out their offensive through the absolutely unmanageable, absolutely amazing Durant, but there is little doubt that it influences Curry's rhythm and general participation. We're talking about a generation-time talent that can sometimes make three or four consecutive minutes of play without a single shot, without even playing a pick and roll, if he is perhaps the deadliest player in NBA history. This is the biggest shooter of all time, reduced for long stretches to another guy running around the screens while Durant plays one-to-one.

There is no doubt that Durant is a more reliable and consistent option against all defenses, as it can not be shot under any circumstances. There is also no doubt that the Warriors are only the Warriors, the team that collectively redefined offensive basketball when Curry heads the attack. It is no coincidence that they ranked 15th out of 16 playoff teams in 3 points and only 9th in 3 points. They are not the same team that many people think. They have changed. Whether it's good or bad is up for debate, but in the end it's a very complicated, multi-layered conversation for another day.

For the moment, this is the simple truth: Curry can not make it at both ends of the court. He's a great player to find out about his insult, even if the plot does not do it justice, and I suppose he'll do it. But the defense is a massive hole for which there seems to be no adequate cover. He is killed outside.

In the first title fight of the Warriors in 2015 they had real problems with the Grizzlies, who had to defeat in the second round 2-1. Curry did not play well – again in relative terms – and there was a real sense that all those fireworks were just a big show after all. Curry came out and proved that was not the rest of the series, and the rest is history. The warriors are a young dynasty. But now it's the Rockets in that position, the offensive Moloch, who's ready to prove they're more than a regular season. They have chosen curry as the street they want to go through.

At some point he will have to stop her.


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