The Blueprint to Life Without Curry
How do the Warriors win without Stephen Curry, the greatest offensive force in history ? They've had mixed results during the year and looked poor to decent. But the playoffs are different and now the Warriors can focus their game plan on one team at a time. They also know they won't have Curry for at least the first three games, maybe all the games of the second round, and when Curry's back, he'll be rusty. So it's a matter of survival to follow a blueprint to winning without Curry.
Here it is.
- gritty switching defense (with goalie backup) to keep them in games
- fast break opportunities off stops
- Klay shooting streaks to get separation
- making simple plays to reduce turnovers
- post up smaller defenders to pass to cutters (and score)
- motion offense to pick on weak defenders without ISOs
Play 1. Punishing a Mismatch
That's an example of how you punish a mismatch (Klay on big) without isolating Klay on the big.
Play 2. Punishing A Bad Switch
This is a pretty simple play. This is another post-cross. You'll see Draymond feed Shaun Livingston in the "post" and Draymond will screen for Klay. In this case, watch how the switch (doesn't) unfold.
Klay is again guarded by Ariza, and Dray is guarded by Josh Smith. Dray sets a simple screen and nails Ariza. Josh Smith needs to switch onto Klay. He does not switch. He hovers in the paint guarding no one, except the demons in his own mind. Jason Terry realizes that Smith will not be guarding anyone physical on this play and jumps out, but he's too late.
Post-Cross and Shaun Livingston
One subtle thing I love about these two past plays is how they play to the strengths of Shaun S-Dot Livingston. It's been a question how to use S-Dot in the post-cross, because his lack of three-point range makes it easy to switch off him if he's acting at the perimeter. Well, in Play 1, the Warriors have him cut to the basket after the feed (which is a real threat) and have someone else set the screen (Dray). In Play 2, S-Dot is the "post" but they place him right at the free-throw line. As you know, S-Dot is nearly automatic from the distance, so he is a real threat to shoot a turnaround jumper from there.
Play 3. Intense Switching Defense With Goalie
This is now the standard Warriors defense: switch most screens, contest hard at the three-point line, and have a goalie ready to stop drivers.
Here is my favorite play of the night. This play is not the tightest defense, but it has great hustle and communication. See how many switches you can count.
Right at the start of the play, Draymond picks up Jason Terry to stop the fast break. Notice his arm signals to Andre Iguodala to pick up Harden.
- Harden immediately screens for Terry, and Andre switches to Terry.
- Harden cuts backdoor, a fine cut, and Terry hits him with a nice pass. But Klay saves the day, switching all the way from Ariza in the right corner.
- Harden sneaks a pass out to Ariza, and Ezeli switches on to Ariza to drive him off the three point line.
- Ariza dribbles past the closeout so Klay switches back to Ariza and stops the drive.
- Andre was zoning Harden and Terry at the arc. The two wisely split, so Andre chooses to cover Harden. When Ariza passes to Terry, Andre switches out to Terry.
- Terry rotates the ball to Harden. Ian Clark anticipates this and before the pass is thrown, he already is sprinting to close out on Harden and lambada with him.
- Harden drives past Clark, but Ezeli switches off Smith to play goalie to cut off Harden's drive, and this gives Iansanity a chance to poke the ball away from Harden.