The NBA Finals: How the Celtics tweaked their defense against Stephen Curry, and what it means moving forward

In the first 12 minutes of the 2022 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry looked like the old video game as he made six consecutive three-pointers in a historic first quarter. I haven’t combed through the data, but after watching nearly every minute of Curry’s season and career, I can almost assure you that, with the exception of the All-Star Game, he hasn’t sprayed anything close to six consecutive three-pointers at any point in what was probably the worst season shooting in his life. These giveaways that used to be routine are now fewer and far between.

This doesn’t mean that Carrie still can’t set you on fire on a given night. he can. It’s just to say that if you play a disciplined, physical defense and track it down with multiple defenders everywhere he moves, these days you seem to have a marginally better chance of getting out alive.

But if you’re going to give a man a wide open look? Forget about it. He will deceive you. that’s what Celtics He did to unlock Game 1, and he completely lost Curry’s path on separate properties as if he was kind of a fourth option. First, Jason Tatum inexplicably walked away from Carey’s defense to stay with Draymond Green. Payton Pritchard and Derek White then stayed with Jordan Paul while Curry appeared alone behind the arc.

Pritchard obviously thought White was going to turn, which he was supposed to. The Celtics change everything, and White will be Curry’s favorite defender over Pritchard. These are the kinds of communication holes that Curry can and often does, because everyone is paranoid trying to account for not only his whereabouts, but all the other Golden State registry threats that are constantly making their way into the open space that Consecration has created. very Lots of interest in curry.

It’s a difficult balance. It’s what makes Curry so difficult, if not nearly impossible, to defend once at a micro and macro level. But these are the finals. Difficulty is part of the deal. Mistakes will happen, but leaving the greatest shooter of all time unattended can’t be one of them.

The Celtics were also very poor at covering their drop against Curry during this early stretch. If you’re not familiar with what a fall cover is, this is when the big guy guarding the ball bounces inside the 3-point line, a strategy usually reserved for bad shooters who want to compromise their 3-pointers. Playing soft cover against Carrie is suicide. See how deep Robert Williams sits inside the 3-point line while Curry gets a spherical screen in nearly half the field.

Williams gives Curry, the greatest shooter of all time, about 20 feet of open space to get out of the screen and shoot, which he did. Curry missed, but a quick offensive rebound and a straight pass created his first 3 of the game, and he was out and running.

Later in the quarter, Daniel Theis was slipping inside the 3-point streak as Curry pulled out unencumbered by what was his sixth and first-quarter record.

Again, this is a difficult balance. Put a lot of pressure on Cary as he hits the big guy in the paint and causes a whole other series of problems. Blitz him, and after pulling two defenders out of play, he found the short cylinder of a 4-on-3 that in Game 1 led to several wide open 3s and dives into the red carpet. Boston aims to split the difference, as Marcus Smart was filmed collapsing into a gorgeous mic clip.

“this is not the heat The series “Smart said.” We cannot start over. You have to start, especially if it’s ready [the screen] very high. You begin and you begin, because we are chasing. Now it comes down to the paint.”

When Smart says “we can’t start over”, he’s saying the big guy can’t sag inside the 3-point line when adjusting the screen. He has to “start”, i.e. set himself above 3-point line in Cary’s depiction space. This is the first step. Deter the three-point shot. It’s a split-second task that’s all about proper positioning.

Once the big guy does that, he and then He backs off to avoid Cary going around him. “Now it comes down to the paint,” said Smart, with he is Being Curry, with Curry’s original ball defender “chasing” from behind, Curry essentially pinches from the front and back. It looks like this.

perfect. Horford starts high, deters the initial drag 3, then backs down as Curry continues down with a chase of Tatum from behind. Here he is again in a time of crisis.

Horford has a better sense of falling than Williams, who has an unusual range as a blocker and therefore has a bit more flexibility regarding his starting position. but not too much. Very fast curry trigger, very deep range. Here Williams starts two steps higher, and changes everything because Carey can’t pull off. The play stretches, and eventually, Curry has to enter the Williams area, at the edge, where Williams has an advantage and blocks his shot.

Here Williams again puts himself above the three-point streak, this time moving on to Curry. Once again, Curry was forced off the streak, and although Curry eventually finished possession with a mid-range jump back, that’s a win for the Celtics. It’s not open 3. You will live with this.

Substitution, to avoid the subtle dilemma of falling but not too far, or too early, is a tactic the Celtics have used more as the game progresses.

Here are two more examples of the Celtics being quick to jump Curry over the 3-point line, forcing him to the next read, and every time you make Curry go through another lead, like the quarterback has to find his second or third future, I’ve put You are in a statistically better position to succeed.

After the first quarter wave, the Celtics were more disciplined in starting their big business and taking Curry’s airspace out of the shuffle, and they’ve clearly cleaned it up completely and lost track. He only made one pointer after the first quarter, and again, it happened because Williams started too low, just below the 3-point streak, and allowed Curry to walk right into the shot.

The difference in those few feet, and even inches, of coverage against Curry is everything. It only needs a small piece of space. Moving on to Game 2, this will definitely be a focal point for Boston, fully equipped to switch, assist and recover shooters once Curry gets into the paint. They can’t give up clean looks at the point of attack.

With Golden State lacking individual playmakers outside of Curry (which is what makes Jordan Bowl, who has to play better in Game 2, so vital), every second ticking the shot clock makes the Celtics more in control of possession. Clamp size and length down.

Once again, Horford feels better about landing than Williams, who is reluctant to extend beyond the three-point streak; His diseased knee may not have reached 100 percent yet and he doesn’t trust himself as much about moving through space. But also, Williams is just a paint keeper. This is his instinct. It doesn’t always come close to shooting big shooters with aggressive enough either. He’s wired to protect the edge and he’s clearly aware, sometimes overly, that he’s taking a beating from dribbling.

But he’s certainly able to stretch himself the few feet necessary to hold Curry off the shots he got in the first quarter, and if he and Horford can do that, creating an attack will become even more difficult for him. the Warriors Moving forward in the series, as has been the case for the last three quarters, and especially into the fourth quarter of Game 1.

Most importantly, this allows the Celtics to stay big in their lineups. If Curry had continued to pull off 3 after 3 as he had in the first quarter, perhaps Boston would have had to rethink some of their lineups, particularly those that included Robert Williams III, who brought so much to the table and is important to be on the ground for minutes Normal.

When Curry can’t get out of 3 either due to the huge man placing himself above or the stalking defender above the screen, Curry can look to attack further into the spoiled line area in Game 2, stopping the drop-shot before the stalker can fully return to theatrical play. Such that:

This is a very difficult shot that Curry makes look easy, but going forward in this series, Curry making the toughest shots could be the only shot of Golden State – which is already in a precarious position where you have to win four out of six – – you must win in everything. Boston isn’t going to be spoon-feeding it like they did in the first quarter, and given how well equipped this defense is to switch and spin once the paint has penetrated, making one-shot will likely become increasingly necessary.

And again, Curry is the only Warriors credible Creator outside of Poole, who could start losing some of his minutes if he doesn’t catch them in Game 2, particularly on the defensive end, where he was tapped repeatedly in the opening.

None of this is a new territory for Kari, who has seen every kind of defense known to man. Honestly, the only kind of defense he wasn’t used to was the one that allowed him to get in on warm-up shots early in the first game. He knew this wasn’t going to last, and he was still effective in the end with 34 points.

He’ll adapt in Game 2. He’ll probably pull the trigger a little deeper, forcing the adults to start bigger, making the entire defense more stretched and weaker when he gets into the paint. Warriors might try Nemanja Bjelica, who can play three throws when both defenders follow Curry downhill (I wouldn’t count on that). Golden State may be moving on from Pick and Roll, although the reason they played a good dose of it in Game 1 is because Boston is, once again, well equipped to switch and stop Curry’s off-ball movement.

That’s what the finals are about. This is an elite attack against an elite defense, and only one will win. Curry won in the first quarter, but then, Boston adjusted and won the match. It’s Golden State’s move now in what should be Barnburn’s last on Sunday.