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Curry The Unswitchable Rhino and the 11-0 run

How the Warriors shut down the Cavs in the closing 11-0 run in Game 3.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Three
If you screen me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This is about the director’s cut version of the piece on Game 3, Explain One Play: The shot and the block. In that piece, I just looked at the defense that led to Kevin Durant’s The Shot and Andre Iguodala’s The Block. I know Andre’s was more The Strip, but I had a (probably obvious) petty reason for naming them The Shot and The Block.

Anyway, I did a longer breakdown of all the plays in the 11-0 run that ended Game 3. Some highlights:

Let’s analyze the plays down the stretch of the improbable, shocking 11-0 Warriors comeback to end Game 3. The two major themes you’ll see are: (1) the Warriors finding varied and creative ways to avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers from isolating on Curry, and (2) bad Cavaliers transition defense.

Curry has taken to boxing out his man when they go to set the screen. He does not go quietly into that Good Switch.

Curry does his imitation of a rhino and refuses to let J.R. Smith move freely....

Curry gives Smith the rhino treatment again, trying to hold up Smith long enough for Iguodala to switch onto him... Kyrie, perhaps tired of the wildlife show, waves Smith off...

There’s a really wide array of defenses the Warriors use to prevent Stephen Curry from getting isolated one-on-one. There’s pre-switching, some un-switching, some double-teaming But the funnest one is when Curry just puts his head down and arms out and refuses to be moved by the other player. This gums up the works, lets other players switch in for Curry, and takes precious seconds off the shot clock.

My conclusion:

It’s too late for the Cavs to fix up their transition defense. The time for building the schemes, communication and habits was the regular season. Notably, the Warriors had poor transition defense and switching at the start of the season, but they made it a point of emphasis to the point where the switching is elite and the transition defense is good.

The Cavs are still capable of winning Game 4. After all, Game 3 was basically a crapshoot. However, the Warriors seem to have found a few more tools working in their fight to keep Curry from getting isolated on defense, and we will see if the Cavs can exploit him as easily as they did for stretches of Game 3.

If you want the full details with full color motion video clips, go read the full article at How The Warriors Shutdown the Cavaliers.


For Game 4, I am...

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  • 14%
    serene and accept what I cannot control
    (87 votes)
  • 13%
    (82 votes)
  • 13%
    certain with a religious fervor
    (77 votes)
  • 33%
    cautiously optimistic
    (196 votes)
  • 5%
    heavily medicated
    (34 votes)
  • 1%
    (9 votes)
  • 17%
    feeling complexity your mortal poll cannot describe
    (104 votes)
589 votes total Vote Now

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