- Two plays in the Golden State Warriors’ Game 1 win over the Houston Rockets exemplified how Stephen Curry makes the Warriors offence so potent.
- In both plays, the mere thought of Curry getting open from three spooked the Rockets, resulting in wide-open dunks for the Warriors.
- Kevin Durant has become the Warriors’ leader on offence in the playoffs and is the factor that puts the team over the top. But Curry is the core of the offence that makes Durant a luxury.
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In the NBA playoffs, Kevin Durant has taken the reins of the Golden State Warriors offence and led them in stunning fashion.
Durant is on one of the NBA’s all-time great runs, averaging 40 points on 54% shooting over the last five games, in which the Warriors are 4-1.
Lately, the Warriors have seemed to tilt things in Durant’s direction. He’s a matchup nightmare for every opponent and can get his shot out of the flow of the offence, an important skill in the postseason. The Warriors have called more isolation plays for Durant, and he even noted after the Warriors’ Game 1 win over the Houston Rockets that head coach Steve Kerr has been calling on him more often.
In these games, there are still reminders that Stephen Curry makes the Warriors the Warriors, even when he’s playing more of a secondary role. He’s had a mediocre playoffs by his standards, but it’s his game-changing skill set that still elevates the Warriors to new levels.
There were two reminders of his powers in Golden State’s Game 1 win. In one play, Curry’s willingness to move off the ball created a wide-open dunk for Kevon Looney.
It’s quite simple: teams worry about Curry’s shooting so much that the Rockets’ Eric Gordon and Gerald Green both jumped out to stop Curry at the three-point line, leaving Looney wide open.
Another play was a dose of the Warriors’ old-school offence – a Stephen Curry high-pick-and-roll led to a numbers advantage for the Warriors and another wide-open dunk.
In today’s NBA, defences are stretched to their limits. Curry is just one of several shooters who is liable to take a pull-up three-pointer from several feet beyond the arc. But the Rockets are stretched all the way out to keep Curry from launching.
It’s unclear if what resulted was a breakdown in the Rockets’ defence or their plan. Harden and Nene doubled Curry, forcing him to give up the ball. The Rockets, the most analytically driven team in the NBA, might have decided before the game that they could live with a 4-on-3 play, hoping it results in a Draymond Green floater or a contested shot at the rim.
Green made the right read to Andre Iguodala, who cut baseline for the alley-oop. It’s a simple play that might not happen if Curry wasn’t a threat from 33 feet out.
It’s not any knock on Durant. He’s seemingly on a roll to prove he’s the No. 1 player in the NBA (an increasingly prevalent belief).
But Curry is the system. Durant is the luxury when they have to break the system.
When both things are working in concert, the Warriors look like the unstoppable team everyone has come to know and expect.
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