Tag: Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Nash says Stephen Curry is the best shooter ever


The quick release. The accuracy. The ability to shoot off the dribble going either way. The high IQ game.

Steve Nash had all of it — he’s a career 42.8 percent shooter from three and arguably the best shooter off the dribble the game has ever seen.

Until Stephen Curry came along. Nash is willing to give the title of best shooter in NBA history to Curry right now. After six years in the league and at age 27. Look at what Nash told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.

“The only pause I have is from fear of being ignorant,” he said. “Am I missing someone? Does he need to play longer or do it longer? Does he have to do it in the playoffs more years? But my first reaction is, ‘Why not?’ He’s as good as anyone I can think of on every level—pure shooting, array of shots, percentage, getting hot, plays to the end—he checks all the boxes….

“Consistency,” Nash said. “Can someone consistently make shots, night in and night out, year after year? That’s the true mark of a player. You could break it down a lot of ways, but that’s the bottom line. How rare are off nights? There are certain guys, they shoot the ball, you always think it’s going in. Steph is able to seamlessly get his feet down, gather his weight between his feet and go up in the air and shoot it in rhythm as if he’d just been standing there, caught it and shot it.

“Truly, from the eye test, he’s the greatest there’s ever been.”

And about shooting off the bounce?

“Steph takes it to another level,” Nash said. “I was able to do it going left and right, and we can both do it at speed, but I was always trying to get to the three-point line. He can do it from deeper and, frankly, I never took a step-back. He has no trouble taking a step-back and making it. You add that to all the other shots. It could be a clincher in this game of deciding who’s the best.”

It’s a little challenging to compare NBA shooters across eras because the older guys never had a three point line, then with the change in defensive rules and philosophy there is more of an emphasis on that shot now.

Still, have you seen Curry shoot?

Nash notes that Curry will likely finish with a lower career shooting percentage than himself, but that’s only because he shoots more often, while Nash resisted that urge (and the pleas of some of his coaches) to set up teammates more. But already Curry has to be up there with the best of them.

There is Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Drazen Petrovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry West, Larry Bird and whomever else you want on that list, Curry belongs there. Whether you go by stats or the eye test, Curry passes.

NBA players’ union hires neurologists to examine league’s concussion protocol

New York Knicks v Golden State Warriors

The NBA has a strict set of guidelines for how it deals with players who have been diagnosed with a concussion.

But for the protocol to even begin, that diagnosis has to take place first.

As we’ve seen in two recent cases with the Golden State Warriors, getting that pronouncement to be made is a difficult proposition. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were cleared to return to play after taking hits to the head, because the symptoms of a concussion weren’t yet present.

Doctors will tell you that there are times when a concussion won’t be fully evident until several hours later; in Thompson’s case, he wasn’t officially diagnosed until days later. This is obviously troubling from a safety standpoint, so the NBA Players Association has hired neurologists to see if more needs to be done to protect its players.

From the Associated Press:

The union has hired neurologists to examine the policy and determine whether any changes are needed to prevent players from playing with an undiagnosed concussion. …

[Union head Michele Roberts] is not convinced that players shouldn’t be held out longer out of caution after being hit in the head. While stressing that she is a lawyer, not a doctor, and that she will wait to hear what the medical experts tell her, she also said one player being allowed back in a game with a concussion is too many.

“That number is sufficient to make us all look at whether we want to risk a player’s health for a game,” she said. “To say it happens so rarely or doesn’t happen frequently enough to change the rules is not enough. We’re talking potentially about someone’s life. I don’t think we should play an odds game when it comes to a player’s life.”

There should probably be a lower threshold than “concussion” for players being held out of action after taking a hit to the head that requires a locker room examination. It makes sense for the union to do what it can to pursue a more reasonable solution than the one currently in place.

How do the Cavaliers defend Stephen Curry?

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

In each three of their playoff series so far, the Cavaliers allowed more points from a point guard than anyone else. Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague have all bested their season scoring averages against Cleveland.

Now, the Cavaliers face the NBA’s best point guard and reigning MVP – Stephen Curry – in the NBA Finals.

How will they slow him down?

“The same way you slow me down,” LeBron James said. “You can’t.”

At least Warriors have several defenders to throw at LeBron – Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala. Cleveland’s roster isn’t nearly as well-suited to contain Curry.

Kyrie Irving said he’d start games on Curry. That’s no easy task for healthy Irving, but Curry can absolutely exploit a hobbled Irving with screen after screen on and off the ball.

Iman Shumpert is the Cavaliers’ best bet on Curry – for both his on-ball perimeter defense and ability to switch on pick-and-rolls. His length can prevent Curry the sliver of space he needs to shoot, and he’s strong enough to handle bigs.

But if Shumpert is on Curry, where does Cleveland hide Irving? Klay Thompson would drag Irving all around the court off the ball, and Harrison Barnes would punish him inside. Remove Irving entirely, and the Cavaliers’ offense suffers.

It’s much easier to play Irving when a Golden State reserve – Andre Iguodala , Shaun Livingston or Leandro Barbosa – is in the game. But Livingston can post up Irving, Barbosa can blow by him, and Iguodala can shoot 3s over him. Irving defending a taller, but stationary, Iguodala is probably the lesser of all evils.

Matthew Dellavedova will also get his turns on Curry. Dellavedova has played good defense throughout the playoffs, but a larger sample raises concerns. Dellavedova will work hard on that end, fighting through screens and getting physical, but his limited athleticism reduces his effectiveness. Curry should eat Dellavedova alive in transition – an area of particular concern for Cleveland.

in this chess match, the Cavaliers should consider whom Curry guards on the other end. Cleveland cross-matching (relative to the defensive matchups Golden State sets) would make it easier for Curry to lose his man on fastbreaks. The Golden State point guard is a terror in transition, hunting open 3s.

Not that he’s easy to stop in halfcourt, either.

Curry doesn’t need much space to shoot, which makes switching on pick-and-rolls an ideal strategy – when possible. Tristan Thompson can probably handle it. Timofey Mozgov probably can’t. LeBron can. Shumpert probably can. Irving probably can’t. Dellavedova might.

That leaves few workable switching combinations – Shumpert-Thompson, Shumpert-LeBron, LeBron-Thompson. At least – if Thompson primarily guards Green and Shumpert primarily guards Curry – Cleveland can switch on Golden State’s favored Curry-Green pick-and-roll.

When Andrew Bogut (guarded by Mozgov) sets a ball screen, the Cavaliers might favor the more conservative approach they’ve shown the second half the season. Curry’s man will try to force him inside the arc, where Mozgov will back off and protect the paint. Curry can drain long 2s, but forcing him into that shot, is a relative win.

LeBron will also have turns in the Curry pick-and-rolls. If Cleveland tries hiding Irving on Barnes or Iguodala, that puts LeBron on Green. So do Cleveland’s small lineups – at least when the Warriors don’t counter with Green at center, which they very well could do.

Long story short, LeBron will be involved in Cleveland’s defense of Curry. LeBron might even directly guard Curry for stretches.

The Cavaliers – especially with LeBron on him – might even try trapping to keep Curry off balance. Curry is a good enough ball-handler and passer to beat those traps, and the Warriors’ other players pass well, which would keep a short-handed defense underneath scrambling.

But at least Cleveland has options for defending Curry. Maybe none of them work, but at least there are options.

In the regular season, the Cavaliers were pretty middling defending point guards. Per 82games, Cleveland was nearly average by both efficiency and volume against opposing point guards:


But as the playoffs have shown, Cleveland is vulnerable here.

It seemed Teague in particular should have attacked the Cavaliers more. He often found success when he did.

Curry presents a far greater challenge.

Look for the Cavaliers to keep Irving on Curry as much as possible. That might be an infinitesimal amount, but the more they can, the better.

Shumpert is the most obvious candidate to do the heavy lifting once Irving falters. LeBron would do well too, but in anything more than limited stretches, the job gets too taxing for him – especially considering his heavy offensive burden.

The Warriors will drag Mozgov into pick-and-rolls, which he can handle OK, but not as well as Thompson. That might tempt Cleveland to go small more often, which might push Golden State to play small, too. The Warriors’ small lineups are dangerous, but at least they offer a place for Irving to hide on defense.

The Cavaliers plan for containing Curry will trickle down into many other decisions for both teams, but the Cavaliers’ challenge starts there.

It’s a big one.

Warriors have options to guard LeBron James, but he’ll make them work

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

source:  As much as anyone has the ability to slow down LeBron James, the Warriors have the ability to slow down LeBron James. They have the personnel and the scheme to counter whatever lineups Cleveland throws at them. The question, and maybe the key to the series, is whether the Warriors’ variety of weapons is enough to overcome the sheer will and power of James, whose presence alone can neutralize teams that, on paper, seem to have enough to stop him.

Golden State doesn’t have that singularly brilliant perimeter stopper that has allowed other teams to successfully limit James, the way Jimmy Butler was in the second round or Kawhi Leonard was in last year’s Finals. There’s no marquee matchup on the defensive end for James, no single nemesis. But the Warriors have such a well-rounded defensive attack that there are at least four different players in their rotation who can more than hold their own.

Harrison Barnes will likely get the first crack at defending James, with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala getting some time on him as well. If Golden State can get away with keeping Barnes on James for stretches, that gives Green the opportunity to battle with Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov in the paint. Having that versatility is going to be crucial for the Warriors, given Thompson’s dominance on the glass. Green is the player most suited to defending James, but the Warriors have other players they can at least throw at him, so Steve Kerr will probably avoid using him as long as he can, to use him elsewhere.

The problem with defending James is that there are no shots you want to give him. He hasn’t been shooting well at all in the playoffs so far, so theoretically, the Warriors will want to give him plenty of open jumpers if it means not letting him get to the rim. The problem with this is that giving LeBron James open shots of any kind is just asking him to make you pay, no matter how he’s shooting at the moment, because of who he is.

The Warriors’ best-case scenario is that James’ jumper continues to be off. Even then, it hasn’t stopped him from dominating throughout the playoffs. He’s still been able to overpower defenders both with his own offense and with his still-elite playmaking skills. If the jumper starts falling again, that just makes him even harder to defend.

When the Cavs go small, with James at power forward and Tristan Thompson at center, Green will see the bulk of the time on him. Green’s success guarding James could be the deciding factor in the series — he has the smarts and the instincts, but James can overpower him. If Green sees extended time on James, especially if he plays him one-on-one, James will look to get him in foul trouble, and taking Green out of the game for an extended stretch would be bad news for the Warriors.

Another advantage the Warriors have is the ability to tire James out on the defensive end. Beyond him and Iman Shumpert, Cleveland’s defensive personnel is shaky, especially on the perimeter. James will see some time on Stephen Curry, since he always guards the other team’s best player. If Curry can make James chase him around the three-point line, it will go a long way. Klay Thompson can do the same thing if James gets switched onto him. There are no weak links in the Warriors’ offense, so no matter who James is guarding, they’re going to make him work. If they can get him in foul trouble, so much the better.

For the last five-plus years, James has been an unsolvable riddle for most of his opponents. The Spurs managed to neutralize him last season with Leonard’s otherworldly coverage and a smart team defensive scheme. Golden State has a similarly sound system and plenty of personnel to stop him. The question as always with James is, will it matter?

WATCH: J.R. Smith’s 2015 Cavaliers highlights

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks

J.R. Smith is right there with Stephen Curry in terms of his ability to make heavily-contested, insanely-difficult shots seemingly on a regular basis.

Since coming to the Cavaliers in the midseason trade from the Knicks, Smith has been largely spectacular, and this highlight reel does a great job of showcasing his special brand of talent.