Gregg Popovich Knows the Secret to Stopping Curry
Gregg Popovich has always been the coach to figure out how to stop the league’s best.
Stephen Curry is a master at draining shots, even when a defender is draped over him like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. It’s somewhat surprising, then, to learn that the highest percentage of shots (36.9 percent to be exact) Curry
has taken this season have come when he is considered “open.” NBA.com defines “open” as a shot when the nearest defender is 4 to 6 feet away. Curry shoots a ridiculous 53.4 percent on those type of shots, making him virtually impossible to stop, as we’ve witnessed time and time again this season. But on Saturday night, the best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich, figured something out.
One factor that can’t be overlooked in the San Antonio Spurs-Golden State Warriors match-up is that Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest ever to coach. And if anyone can come up with a strategy to expose the Warriors’ weaknesses and limit their strengths, it’s Popovich. Curry took 18 shots against the Spurs, and the Spurs contested 11 of them. The Spurs set the tempo of the game early-on. The Spurs may have gotten a heads up on how to guard Curry, which is showcased by the defense Chris Paul plays on him.
Guarding Curry at the Line
The Spurs game plan kept fresh bodies on Curry. And those bodies were charged up and focused to slow the MVP. They chased him off the 3-point line or forced him to take contested 3’s by swarming him on the perimeter. As a result, the Warriors were forced to play at the slowest pace they’ve played all season. It’s just one game, but the Spurs provided a glimpse at their blueprint for slowing down the best team in the NBA. Can it be repeated four times in a seven-game series to stop the Warriors from winning a second straight NBA title? Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs certainly hope so.
The Warriors’ offense is prone to struggle when Curry is having trouble scoring. With a loaded roster to throw at the splash brothers, the Warriors will need to figure out something come June. The Spurs played an aggressive game and walked away victorious by making the Warriors play San Antonio’s game. Gregg Popovich proved that constant pressure on the ball can lead to more difficult shots.
I expect the Warriors to adjust when the teams meet again April 7 in Oakland, April 10 in San Antonio, and most likely in the Western Conference finals. It should pave the way for an incredible back-and-forth series.