All season long, Portland’s base defense has been a drop pick-and-roll coverage, meaning when a ball handler comes off a pick the center stays back to protect the paint rather than come out and challenge or hedge, and there are no switches. With the right personnel, it can be very effective — it’s what Milwaukee did on its way to the best defense in the NBA this past season. The Bucks, however, have long, athletic perimeter defenders good at fighting over picks and still challenging shooters.
After the game, Portland coach Terry Stotts was asked about it and got a bit testy.
Portions of Blazers nation and NBA Twitter loved that, “Ohh, Stotts dunked on that reporter.”
No. Not even close.
Is Curry incredibly good at basketball and potentially going to go off no matter what defense you throw at him? Absolutely. It may not matter.
But at least make it hard on him. If you give him the kind of open looks he gets in pregame warmups Curry absolutely will destroy you. Which is what happened in Game 1.
Damian Lillard gave a much better answer in his postgame press conference, and undercut his coach (unknowingly).
“That was very poor execution defensively on our part,” Lillard said. “Just having our bigs back that far, understanding the team we are playing against, they are not going to shoot midrange jumpers and try to attack the rim. If they see the opportunity to shoot a three, they are going to tell you. They shoot it at a high clip.
“We’ve got to bring our guys up and run them off the line, and tonight, they were setting solid screens and coming off shooting practice shots. That’s the last thing we need if we want to have any chance to beat this team.”
Heck, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a better answer about why Portland did what they did, noting their 48-hour turnaround between games.
“I think every defense is sort of personnel-based, and so you know, these playoff series are always interesting, and they didn’t have, you know, a whole lot of time to prepare, so they have got a tape to look at and I’m sure they will make some adjustments,” Kerr said.
Portland will adjust and defend differently in Game 2.
Will it matter is another question.