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Coach's Clipboard: Stephen Curry is magnificent at not leading the break

Stephen Curry shows his high basketball IQ, preferring a two-on-one fast break to a three-on-one break.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In the Golden State Warriors' last win against the Phoenix Suns, point guard Stephen Curry once again proved why he's the clear MVP favorite. Of even greater importance, he reminded us of why fundamental basketball still rules -- even in the big show. For in that game, Curry gave up an opportunity to lead the break, and it was awesome.

There's no greater display of speed and athleticism than what's routinely shown off on a fast break. It can be one of the more exciting and exhilarating moments in the game, and the Warriors are no stranger to it -- they lead the NBA in fast-break points per game and, according to the NBA's statistical tracking data, they travel 16.8 miles per 48 minutes, third-most in the NBA.. They're always in motion, and it's that consistent on-the-move action that awards them great looks at the rim. It's also a big reason why they're shooting a league-best 48.3 percent from the field.

However, on the break it's important for players to keep their wits about them. What seems to be a quick opportunity to score can easily turn into a "Shaqtin' a Fool" moment. Not for Curry, though. The Warriors' point man and leading scorer has a high basketball IQ. It's one of his many attributes that separates him from other players in the league. Curry's smarts were fully on display on what could have been a three-on-one break late in the first quarter.

Here is a link to a video of the play in question.

After Curry blocks Suns forward Markieff Morris' shot, the Warriors immediately have a three-on-one fast break. The only Suns player in transition to defend is guard Isaiah Thomas. At first glance, you'd think the Warriors have a better chance to score with three players going up against one. After all, in most walks of life there's strength in numbers.

Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in this instance. A three-on-one break means less floor spacing for the Warriors and essentially gives Thomas some help on defense. Three Warriors players sprinting towards the rim are actually easier for Thomas to guard than two because the third body significantly reduces the amount of floor space Thomas has to cover. This can result in a missed opportunity for the offense.

Instead, Curry relents and the break is finished by Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala, who create a considerable amount of space between each other. Now Thomas has to make the decision of not only which player to defend, but rather which side of the floor to defend. He also has a greater amount of distance to cover if he's to initially cover Thompson and then jump back to Iguodala. A third Warrior in the mix would have clogged up the open floor and given Thomas a better chance of disrupting the play.

Curry's decision in this play was the ultimate in selflessness. Rather than play alpha dog and force himself into the equation to go for an assist of his own, he trusted his teammates to handle it the right way. Thomas had no chance to stop this break. He also wasn't close enough to Iguodala to foul and make the Warriors earn their buckets from the charity stripe. Curry's execution on the fast break led to another assist for Klay and the subsequent dunk by Andre.

Quite often, we hear "it's the little things" that win basketball games. On every level, from the weekend recreational games to the hardwood of the NBA, one small (and commonly overlooked) factor remains: Fundamentals continue to win games.

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