Targeted Curry requires extra self-discipline on D

HOUSTON — Before the Western Conference finals tipped off, Stephen Curry joked that he anticipated the Houston Rockets to assault him defensively on “every single play.”

He wasn’t too far off.

The Rockets focused Curry on 23 possessions in Game 2, essentially the most he has been focused in a recreation this postseason, as they routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday evening to even the sequence at one recreation apiece. He was the first defender on 20 performs in Game 1.

According to Second Spectrum, Curry defended 15 isolation performs in Game 1 and 13 in Game 2. Both have been greater than he had defended previously 4 seasons, common season and playoffs.

“They made shots,” Curry mentioned concerning the Rockets’ excessive level complete. “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.”

Asked about how relentlessly the Rockets are zeroing in on Curry, coach Mike D’Antoni mentioned, “It’s obviously one of our things we like to do.”

In the sequence, James Harden and Chris Paul are persistently calling for screens from the teammate Curry is guarding to get the two-time MVP to modify onto them. Once Curry switches to the first ball handler, the Rockets try and penetrate to the basket.

Houston shot 7-of-15 from the sector on these 23 possessions Curry was the first defender. Curry was beat off the dribble steadily and too usually allowed Harden to drive to his stronger left facet.

“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,” Curry mentioned. “Whether they score or not, as hard as we’re working on the defensive end, they’re working as hard on the offensive end to get shots up. That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2. They made a concerted effort to turn those one-on-one situations into a little bit more ball movement, and we were just a step slow, myself included.”

Many are questioning whether or not Curry is absolutely healed from his left knee damage that pressured him to overlook 5 weeks.

“I physically feel fine,” he advised ESPN. “I’m playing without really any limitations so I can just go play basketball.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he believes his level guard can deal with the defensive toll the Rockets are bestowing.

“[Steph’s] feeling good,” he mentioned. “I don’t know what this was, maybe his sixth or seventh game back. So he’s getting better, and I thought he played a lot better in Game 1 than anyone gave him credit for. But, again, it wasn’t our night. Our defense wasn’t connected. We weren’t on the same page on a lot of plays where we got a little out of sorts.”

Houston shot 51 p.c from the sector and has gained seven straight playoff video games when capturing 50 p.c or higher courting to 2009.

“We just got to guard,” Durant advised ESPN when requested concerning the Rockets focusing on Curry and reserve Nick Young. “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.”

D’Antoni’s offensive scheme is limiting what the Warriors can do from a group defensive idea. But Durant did not wish to use that as an excuse for his or her poor defensive displaying.

“We obviously want to fly around defensively, but if it doesn’t call for that and a team is not moving the ball, or they’re not having body movement, if we stay in front of the ball, we’re guarding up, then we’ll be fine,” Durant advised ESPN. “Sometimes it’s good to play man-on-man protection and simply attempt to simply get an excellent shot or make a man shoot over you, and different occasions, you may want to assist and get a steal or a block. It simply will depend on how the sport’s going. With this group, they make you do each.

“But I am not giving up no intel, man. Just man up. Just play one-on-one D. Just lock in and attempt to make it as robust as they’ll on their guys that scored and we’ll go from there. And we’ve got to cremate out and play with just a little extra focus.”

Game three is Sunday. And regardless of struggling their worst postseason loss since shedding by 30 in Game three of the 2016 NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Curry says he feels good about the place his group is positioned.

“Obviously, now the cliché is we got here right here and we did what we’re imagined to do, and it is 1-1, and yada, yada, yada,” Curry said. “That’s an excellent feeling, higher than the choice. Now we have got to go house and recalculate, determine the way to get the momentum again on our facet. Get our house crowd into it and ought to be in fine condition.”

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