If it looked like James Harden, Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets were targeting Stephen Curry in Wednesday’s Game 2 victory against the Golden State Warriors, it’s because they were. Emphatically so.
The Rockets repeatedly came at Curry, and made attacking him the heart of their offense.
Houston targeted Stephen Curry on 23 plays tonight. It’s the most in a game this postseason. He was the primary defender on 20 plays in Game 1.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 17, 2018
The Rockets shot 7-of-15 on the 23 possessions Stephen Curry was the primary defender.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 17, 2018
It’s a solid plan by Houston. Curry is a good defender, but not nearly on the same level as Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, or Andre Iguodala. Add in Curry’s impacted lateral movement due to his knee injury, and he’s a pretty clear target.
Curry saw the success that Houston had in Game 2, and was able to identify two areas where Golden State needs to improve: Aggression, and discipline.
According to ESPN, Curry stated that, “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. ... We’ve got to respond with some more aggressiveness and more discipline on the defensive end.”
Considering that Houston took a similar approach in Game 1, with much different results, it certainly seems like the biggest difference between games was Golden State’s effort level, not anything new that the Rockets did. It’s pretty clear what Houston intends to do, and Curry’s right: Golden State needs to step up their aggression and discipline so that they can stop it.
Part of the problem, Curry admitted, was trying to focus too much on switches, rather than on playing strong individual defense. “We were trying to be too cute with our [defensive] exchanges and our switches and all that stuff instead of just manning up and playing one-on-one defense,” he noted.
Kevin Durant echoed those sentiments, saying that, “They’re making us play old-school one-on-one defense. We just got to guard and not foul. We got like three or four and-1s there in the third quarter from reaching in. We just got to guard and man up and see what happens.”
The Warriors know what they need to do, and they’re more than capable of doing it. Game 3 should be very, very interesting.