The Stephen Curry Problem: Warriors 115 Rockets 80

Ron Adams just ended the Rockets with a killer mid-series defensive adjustment. Just as he did to the Grizzlies.

Adams decided to take James Harden completely off the board.  First by switching the defensive assignments, taking Klay Thompson off of him, and putting the longer Harrison Barnes on him. And second by double teaming his dribble, to protect the hapless Barnes from another immortal internet splits meme. The result was this: With the threat of the full-on double imminent, Barnes was able to press up on Harden fearlessly, and challenge his outside shot. It was clear to me that Harden was bothered by Barnes’ length on several of his shots.

On the drive… well, there was no drive. The Warriors, who were essentially zoning behind Barnes, as Doug Collins noted, immediately trapped Harden as soon as he put the ball on the floor. Forcing him to rotate the ball before he wanted to. Completely taking away his play-making ability.

Genius. The Rockets had no answer. They couldn’t punish the double-team with outside shooting: Terry and Ariza, wide open all night, were a brick laying factory. And they couldn’t run offense. Who on the Rockets but Harden can initiate the offense? Without Harden’s brilliant playmaking, the Rockets collapsed like a house of cards.

The Stephen Curry Problem: I wrote before the series about some possible adjustments the Rockets could make to defend Curry, HAD to make to defend Curry, but unlike the brilliant Warriors coaching staff, Kevin McHale is completely unable to make an adjustment. He seems to view them as a violation of his old-school warrior code.

Kevin McHale is riding Jason Terry into the sunset. Of both their careers. I can’t see McHale surviving this debacle.

And instead of blitzing Curry to get the ball out of his hands, McHale is playing him straight up, and simply handing him off on screens. To Josh Smith and Dwight Howard.

If you listen for it, you can hear the disbelief in Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson’s voices as they describe this mess. It is completely against their code to criticize another coach on the air, but the strain of keeping their mouths shut is coming through.

I love Stephen Curry as much as any fan. Have loved his game, celebrated his game, since the first day he set foot on the floor in an NBA uniform. And I got as much pleasure from watching his performance last night as anyone, anywhere. Stephen Curry is the greatest shotmaker in NBA history. And if he ever gets the chance to play with a scoring center in a pick and roll offense, he’ll become one of the greatest playmakers in NBA history as well. Of that, I have no doubt.

But let’s face it, Curry has never had an easier playoff matchup. He’s being guarded by Jason Terry, a 37 year old munchkin who couldn’t play defense in his prime. Now? It’s borderline pathetic. Cringeworthy. There is no worse defender in the 2015 NBA playoffs than Jason Terry.

Curry is getting single-covered. He’s not getting trapped. Not getting bumped. Getting handed off to power-forwards and centers in single coverage.

Steve Kerr pointed to the fact that the Warriors had no turnovers in the first half other than an offensive foul, as a key to their ability to blow the game open. Quite rightly. When they don’t turn the ball over, not only are the Warriors getting a shot off on every possession, but they are completely stifling the Rockets fast break.

But why aren’t the Warriors turning the ball over? Is it because they’ve become more tough minded, turned themselves into playoff hardened beasts? Or is it because there is zero ball pressure on Stephen Curry? Zero. Jason Terry can’t turn Curry over. Jason Terry couldn’t turn me over on a drive to the fridge for a Fat Tire.

Right now Curry is shooting ducks in a barrel.

On the other hand, that offensive rebound against Dwight? Iconic. Everything you need to know about Stephen Curry’s hoops IQ and competitive drive — the intangibles of a true MVP — in a three second clip.

Draymond: If there ever was a question as to who would dominate the power forward matchup in this series, it has now been answered. Josh Smith played lights out in the Clippers series against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. But Draymond Green is eating him alive.

Draymond is dominating this series. Not just his own man, but Dwight Howard. And everyone else who ventures into his space. Like James Harden.

I’ve always liked watching defensive players. But Draymond is selling it to the world, not unlike Dennis Rodman. His defensive charisma rivals Curry’s offensive charisma. Just as his defensive impact rivals Curry’s offensive impact.

And Draymond is more than just a defensive player. He’s a two-way player extraordinaire. The Warriors offense hummed like a well-oiled machine last night, and that had a lot to do with Green’s ability to spread the floor and make plays for his teammates.

Superstar?

The King awaits.

Klay Thompson: Klay’s had a rough series, but I think he’s getting an unfair rap from the commentators. Klay is drawing the best defender in every series, Tony Allen last series, and Trevor Ariza in this one. And he’s the second option in a motion offense starring a completely unguarded Stephen Curry, which means he’s not getting a lot of opportunity. Why force the ball to Klay, who is being denied by a ferocious defender, when the offense is designed to find the open man? And when you’re being guarded by a great defender, and not getting a lot of touches, it’s easy to lose your rhythm.

If given the opportunity, Klay could put up patented, utterly inefficient, Kobe-Bryant- in-the-teeth-of-the-defense 30 point playoff performances. That’s simply not his role on this Warriors team. Nor is it, I don’t think, whom he wants to be.

Last night, Steve Kerr made an adjustment regarding Klay. After freeing Klay from the burden of guarding James Harden, Kerr gave him a much bigger role in the offense, by putting the ball in his hands and letting him initiate. Klay still struggled with his shot, but at least he got his shots. 18 in this game. And he demonstrated his very underrated playmaking ability: 5 assists against 1 TO.

Playoff Barnes, Playoff Bogut and Playoff Livingston: The Barnes fan-boys are having a tough series. Barnes has been largely shut down. 9-29 shooting, less than 4 rebounds a game. If you’ve been reading me for the last several years, you already know the reason why.

He’s being guarded. It’s really that simple. He’s being guarded, and not by the 6-3″ Courtney Lee, whom the Grizzlies tried to hide on him last series. Nor by the laughable Game 6 experiment of Zach Randolph. He’s being guarded by James Harden, a 6-6″ player who can move his feet if he wants to. And that’s enough. In this series, Playoff Barnes has lost his glass slipper. He’s been transformed back into Regular Season Barnes, the 142nd ranked player in the NBA.

Both Andrew Bogut and Dwight Howard have benefited from being left unguarded and found for uncontested dunks in this series. But Bogut in particular. The Warriors are penetrating virtually at will against Jason Terry and Josh Smith, and as a result the entire Rockets defense has collapsed. Howard is being forced to leave the lane to stop the penetration, Bogut is wide open under the basket. Boom. In this series, Bogut is the open man. Playoff Bogut is stepping up in Playoff Barnes’ place.

With the exception of last night’s game, Shaun Livingston has been having a fine series. Following on the heels of a fine series against the Grizzlies. You don’t have to look much further than Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni for the reason, but there are other things going on as well that have led to the emergence of Playoff Livingston.

Jeff Van Gundy commented in an earlier game that he would think about guarding Shaun Livingston with Dwight Howard. A brilliant comment, which should tell you everything you need to know about how Shaun Livingston is being used in Steve Kerr’s offense. He’s not the point guard, quite obviously. He is in many ways the second unit’s Playoff Bogut. He’s the guy who hangs around under the basket in the small unit, waiting for wide open dunks. Which have occurred with regularity when his man gives help and loses contact with him.

I didn’t watch Livingston much last night, but when I did it looked to be Corey Brewer who was guarding him. And staying with him. (Who said Kevin McHale can’t make an adjustment?) You saw the difference.

Something tells me that Playoff Livingston is going to be much needed in the next series, and could get a real test.

Festus Ezeli: Ezeli played great last night on both sides of the floor. It’s great to see him returning to his old self on defense, and his offensive improvement is remarkable.

Jeff Van Gundy spent a lot of time during the game promoting Festus as a starting center. And it crossed my mind that this may have been inspired in part by the obvious grudge that Van Gundy and his buddy Mark Jackson carry against Bogut. The very sly Van Gundy has been subtly killing Bogut for leaking to the media that he was under the weather for game 1. And he recently labeled Bogut as “just another guy” in an interview, and said that the Warriors could win without him.

I happen to agree with Van Gundy. About everything.

Festus Ezeli made my jaw drop when I first layed eyes on him in the Vegas summer league. But his rookie performance, starting in place of the injured Bogut, was even more jaw-dropping. In many ways, he carried the Warriors into the playoffs on his back. While nearly blowing up his career in the process, by playing on a badly damaged knee throughout the second half of the season.

He never said one word about it.

The Chopping Block: The media will try to sell us on the idea that the Rockets will come out breathing fire for Game 4. I don’t think that will happen, even if Kevin McHale suddenly wakes up and makes the adjustments he should have made to start the series: bench Terry, insert Corey Brewer, blitz Curry, and try to win a defensive struggle. It’s too late for that now, his demoralized team has given up.

I’ve noticed that when teams in the playoffs realize that they (or their coach) have no answer, they pack their bags. Particularly if a meaningless home win means one more humiliating nationally televised spanking on the road. That’s what we saw from the Grizzlies in Game 6. And it’s probable that’s what we’ll get from the Rockets in Game 4.

Bring on The King.

51 Responses to The Stephen Curry Problem: Warriors 115 Rockets 80

  1. Must have been a dull party. All we need to know.

    Curry has shot 58% on 3s against Houston, averaging 18 points per game on 3s alone. I can’t remember many being contested. And I can’t remember many times he didn’t have an easy path to the basket for a layup, though note his floaters over Howard, that bank shot last night where the ball never left his left hand.

    The Rockets had to score, and they had to find a way to do it without Harden dominating the ball or looking for Howard inside. After all, they made up a 20 point deficit against the Clippers without Harden on the court at all. The adjustment on Harden had to be something McHale anticipated. He didn’t.

    If we give the Warriors +5 for coaching, we also have to give McHale -5. That’s a difference of 10. Use whatever numbers you want to represent the disparity. Any way you cut it, it is huge.

    Huddles are usually ways for coaches to keep players in the game and focused, and they repeat simple statements about energy, aggression, and crisp execution. Pops does the same. The plans have already been laid well before, or should have been. But when the mike was on McHale first half, he sounded confused and spiritless, which had to have rubbed off on the players.

    Kerr keeps to his character and preaches efficiency and care, asking the players to avoid the home run play. Really, though, that’s just a way to maintain an even keel and rein in his players a bit, who are already charged. What makes the Warriors win is when their key players, most Curry and Green, are turned loose. Protecting the ball had nothing to do with the game last night. The announcers said it—Houston was unable to put pressure on the ball.

    Ignore the Atlanta series. Cleveland can be defeated.

  2. Thanks, Feltbot. Good stuff.

    “Superstar? The King awaits.” Yeah. Damn hell yeah. I want that Green/James matchup so bad my teeth hurt. That is going to be epic.

    Unfortunately, I suspect the Ws will start Barnes on LBJ with help, with Green on Tristan Thompson, just to minimize the Cavs’ offensive rebounding. Barnes does fine against some bigs sometimes, but has never learned how to box out. He can probably handle Thompson, though. I hope not, but it might take a game or two for Ws coaches to figure that out.

    Also true from your post: The Rockets have given up, and are already making their summer vacation plans. Saw that last night. The whole second half. They could hardly wait to get out of the gym.

    • Yeah, The King vs Draymond. If that’s the match-up Kerr approves, and I think Adams would recommend so, HB had better box out TT for sure. I think instructed he is up to it.

      Any chance Adams/Kerr would employ the same strategy to The King as they did on Harden? That is, have HB body-up tight on The King, then trap his dribble? Or is The King just too quick and powerful? And do the Cavs have reasonably accurate 3-point shooters?

  3. Just curious, what do you think makes it OK for Howard to elbow people in the face when fighting for position?

  4. The wisdom of Phil Jackson, retweeted at ESPN:

    Some corrected thoughts:

    1)like 3pt shooters, check it out, but to play for 3pt shot is an error. Penetration, first principal of offense. [Wasn’t this McHale’s philosophy last night?]

    2)we are glad for JR,Shump,Pablo,etc…players have comfort zones that they need to play their best…we want them to find that in NBA

    3)the 3pt shot is not the be all end all of basketball. WNBA is taking their exhibition game to extremes-do not disvalue the 2pt shot.

  5. Woke up mid-second quarter, checked the score and went back to sleep with a good feeling. What a joyful surprise seeing the final score in the morning (living in Europe) and that without some opponent shredding his knee.
    Had exactly the same thoughts regarding Jet when I watched the game. He is gifting easy thirty point games to Curry and if he can’t bring any offense to the table his minus too big to win a game.
    I did not like the second units sans Lee this game but really what evs? We might end up with a title without them mattering much. Let’s talk about them when relevant.
    Breen:”Bogut looks like he is constantly in pain.” made me chuckle.

  6. If nothing else, Feltbot is an engaging writer of fiction. I only wish he weren’t doing it while pretending to write about factual events.

    For example, the 2nd & 3rd paragraphs of this post give the misleading impression that, at some point early in last night’s game, Harden was double-teamed while being guarded by Barnes — and specifically, that this double-team occurred when Harden put the ball on the floor.

    However, no such play occurred.

    As far as I can tell, Feltbot is taking plays from later in the 1st quarter — when Klay was guarding Harden — and pretending they happened earlier so as to avoid giving Barnes credit for playing excellent straight-up defense.

    Sad, but not especially surprising.

    • I saw the traps, double and a few times even 3 guys. And I thought several times as I was watching, “damn, is that a zone?”.

      That’s not to say there were not some sequences where he was not trapped. I saw several. Of those, the best defender was Draymond.

    • Swoopa the Magnificent pulls another rabbit out of his hat, going from precise observation to a sweeping generalization. Perhaps you can fill us in on the details so we can know exactly what occurred, as well as use them to support that white-eared, fuzzy-tailed conclusion?

      My impression first quarter was that the team in general and Harden in particular were occupied in trying to establish dominance in the paint, with obvious limited success, and that Harden was not engaged that much in shooting or driving himself. A quick review of the the game play supports this. But I also recall the defense on Harden was complex and shifted throughout the night, with different players and different looks, Green often coming into play, as the Houston writer observed. But I do not have the benefit of replay or such a precise memory.

      • rgg, threat of the trap was always right there, Harden could see it, even if not employed each sequence.

    • https://youtu.be/6tkuIcKtiko?t=80

      Pause it at exactly 5:51 1st Quarter. Warriors playing box and 1 versus Harden. Who are Curry and Klay guarding? What happens if Harden drives?

      • Felt, I think the Rockets wish that your suggestion was accurate… but it isn’t. You’re implying that Klay & Steph are ignoring the shooters in the corners because they’re so focused on helping the “hapless” Barnes contain Harden. But as this picture from just a second earlier makes clearer, the W’s are playing man-to-man defense, and Klay/Steph are midway between the ball and their man:

        http://imgur.com/qPlx37j

        Obviously, being available to help contain a drive is part of Klay/Steph’s responsibilities either way, but Harden would love nothing more than to make them come help Barnes, since drawing a double-team and kicking the ball out for a corner 3 is a major part of his game (this article from January notes that Harden was far and away the league leader in assists for corner 3s).

        Apparently, though, Harden didn’t feel confident in his ability to blow by Barnes. Curious, eh?

        • Harden can see the triple team he’s facing, it’s curious you can’t. I think your overwhelming obsession with trolling is getting the better of your reason.

          Another game is being played tonight. Let’s see if Harden gets aggressively trapped on every drive. Again.

          • If you think the picture I linked above shows an impending triple-team on Harden, you’re downright delusional.

          • (P.S. To be clear, yes, other players are ready to challenge Harden in the lane if he gets by Barnes… which is normal NBA defense. Harden sees it every game, and as I noted above, welcomes it because it lets him kick the ball out to open shooters.)

  7. Thanx Felt, fabulous, filled in a lot of holes for me of what I was looking at and thinking.

  8. Just a note as to Ezeli never complaining about his health. Neither did Howard.

  9. So I watched the Atlanta game because I wanted to see how Bazemore would do and still stayed with it when Horford was ejected. But it turned into a tremendous game.

    I readily confess I was among the loudest critics of Bazemore, but, as everyone said, he was miscast at at point. I thought he played a tremendous game. His poise and activity were great, and he helped lift the team. He was ready and wanted this. His shot’s still uneven, but he is quick and aggressive to the hoop, sees the court well, reacts quickly, and is everywhere on defense. He passes my first test: you always are aware of his presence on the court. The Warriors let one go.

    There is a context to the Horford ejection, in fact several events. The YouTube below is of Delladedova’s undercutting of Korver, sending him out of the series, slow mo replay at :26. There’s no question of a flagrant foul, or even a common foul. But there’s also no question that he knows what he is doing and is in control of it: he’s throwing his body in the direction of Korver’s feet, and he knows is there, risking injury. It might be OK in rugby, but rugby players are prepared for it. Not in basketball. Anybody remember what he did to spark Taj Gibson’s ejection?

    • I thought he deliberately churned into Hortford for several feet like a low football block or maybe that’s how they block in rugby. The refs can’t allow that. Horford over reacted, but he could have easily injured Horford. He did a similar thing to Korver, except that play he was protecting the ball going into Korvers legs. Both were fouls on Delladedova, IMO. And both were dangerous plays, IMO.

      • For those who miss Bruce Bowen the multiple big time performances by Dellavedova must be partytime. I can easily see him going after Curry’s ankles.

    • Art Vandelay

      The replay from front-on clearly shows Horford grabbing Dellavedova’s arm, pulling him back and down. I like Horford but it seems he initiated all the contact for the play in question.

    • Horford I’m sure had the Korver play in mind. He may as much have been trying to protect himself from the same move as retaliate. J. R. Smith also gave Bazemore a chop in the face. While he was reaching for the ball, he clearly unnecessarily raised his elbow. If Baze ran into it, he could have had a broken jaw.

      Delladedova is clearly throwing his body into Korver’s legs, is in control of this motion, and is risking serious injury to another player in the process. Intention or protecting the ball is beside the point. I think the best way to think about these moves, which are being called good hard hustling, is to imagine if they were perfected by many players. There would be renewed interest in the D-league and more fresh, new faces in the playoffs.

      My objection to such moves is that they come unseen to players who often expose themselves in playing the game. Players cannot protect or defend themselves. Nor can they, quite frankly, retaliate to discourage the moves happening again. In contact sports, moves are seen, expected, and defended, and players have recourse.

      But even boxing has an absolute rule: no hitting below the waist. Just as no movement to the head is tolerated in the NBA, something similar should be enforced as well. I still have in mind Zebo’s undercutting Brandon Rush while he was in the air. Zebo was quite contrite, but it didn’t matter. Rush’s career may be over.

      Kenny Smith may have the best solution. There has to be a code among players that they respect, regardless. Jim Barnett said the same with Rush’s injury.

      At any rate, it’s pretty clear Cleveland plans to muscle their way to a championship. They may not miss Love at all.

      • cosmicballoon

        Cleveland really started firing on all cylinders when JR Smith became the requisite gunner rather than Love. This is a bit premature, bit O am very interested to see what Adams comes up with to guard this Cleveland squad, which has turned into Spurs East with Lebron as the primary facilitator. Adding Shumpert and Smith and allowing Delladova to hoist at will has turned the Cavs into a very good three point shooting team.

        • By my quick count, LeBron is 10-62 on threes in this postseason. Could be a Courtney Lee thing though.

  10. Harden was correct. Adams indeed had something up his sleeve for him for Game 3.

    It must demoralize the Rox players to see how out coached they are.

  11. Feltbot, are you serious? Barnes did have a very bad shooting game in game 3, but it was not because of Harden’s defense. Most of those shots were open or point blank shots. Those were good shots and Barnes just simply missed them. Up to the last minute of the 2nd game, Barnes was shooting 50%. Can you honest say Warriors would win the first game without Barnes shooting 6/12? If you want to pick on Barnes, there were easier targets. The misses in the last minute in Game 2 were wide open shots and he was not clutch. But those shoots were not defended by Harden, nor were most of the shoots in game 3.

  12. Courtney Lee and James Harden are the same height (6’5″).

    Harden is strong as bull with what appears to be a longer wingspan, and may well be a marginally tougher defender overall. But there’s no need to invent an imaginary 3-inch height difference just to make a point.

    • I never actually looked it up before, but I’m baffled by Lee’s listing. To my eye, he looks 6-3″, and plays 6-3″.

      But whatever. Barnes is not getting to the rim, nor even to his mid-range shot in this series, like he did against the Grizz.

      • Actually stunned to learn Lee might be 6-5. Makes me wonder why his career hasn’t been better. He has a lot of tools.

      • Come on. Barnes had one bad shooting game. Up to the last minute of game 2, he was shooting 50%.

  13. Hard not to believe the Rockets won’t come out firing tonight, if for no other reason than to save face before the home crowd. Less certain is whether McHale will made a sensible adjustment.

    But, as Feltbot noted, the Warriors never let up.

  14. The Dellavedova problem? He’s afflicted with white man’s disease. There’s no cure either. I suffer from it too, though I like to think my symptoms are not as pronounced as your average white guys. It’s hard for him to keep up, from an athletic standpoint. The NBA is a far cry from the WCC. But hes got good point instincts and just needs to work on his trey to have a long career. It takes him way too long to launch..

    I grew up playing hoops with a guy who threw his body around and was very injury-prone. Except he was never the guy getting hurt. Everyone got wary of matching up with him and his special knack

    Hopefully LeBron stays healthy. He’s the one force that can still be an obstacle for the Warriors. He’s capable of rising to the occasion for 5, 6, 7 games and leading the Cavs to the top. But it’ll take a Herculean effort. Harden gave it a shot, those first two games.

    • You hope LeBron stays healthy? Traitor!

    • should Cle be able to finish a sweep without needing Irving to play, he and l-b-j will get a good stretch of rest and rehab. we’ll probably get to see two rookie coaches and two m.v.p.’s as antagonists, and maybe stiffer competition for the so called destiny team than what they faced in the ‘super competitive’ western conference.

      • There are rumors that if both conference finals end in a sweep, the NBA might move up the finals. I think both the Ws and Cavs sweep. Less recovery time for all concerned.

        No question in my mind that Dellavedova intentionally tried to roll up Horford’s legs. He never put his hands down to prevent it, which would have been the natural thing to do in that situation. I only wish Horford had gotten his money’s worth with his retaliatory elbow. Dellavedova deserved to get stomped flat. On my local court he would have been.

        Re injuries, discussion of: In his post-game interview last night, LeBron claimed multiple serious injuries AND the drive and courage to play through them to the end. Cheezy. Disappointing. If there was ever a player who didn’t need to do self-promotion, it’s that guy.

        Regardless of the outcome 2nite, the Rockets have had a great season! McHale’s in-game adjustments are lame/nonexistent, but to assemble his record with all the roster changes his team’s been through – just Wow! Now if he’d learn gametime tactics he could be a completely excellent coach. And maybe he wouldn’t look like he’s facing a firing squad in the post-game presser.

        Agree with Felt that the Rox have already packed their bags for Cabo, and I wonder if it’s a leadership thing. Their two best players are a narcissistic dork and a mutant alien. No team leadership there. They don’t believe.

    • cosmicballoon

      If the Cavs sweep, the long break between the Conference finals and NBA finals will benefit Lebron a lot. He will get Kyrie back and his ankle/foot will heal.

      The finals should be about the best team, rather than a war of attrition.

  15. Since rgg asked for details yesterday about my comment @ 6 above (and since Feltbot is persisting in his false version of events), let’s walk some of the 1st-half possessions so everyone can see clearly how the W’s approached defending Harden.

    Here’s Harden’s 1st shot attempt, where he gets a rebound at 8:36 of the 1st quarter and attempts to go coast-to-coast:

    http://imgur.com/7bc1mTb
    http://imgur.com/BWL6ySs
    http://imgur.com/uHAScUH
    http://imgur.com/Y6aMVP8

    Notice that Barnes picks up Harden in the backcourt and stays in front of him the entire way without any double-team help. When he cuts off the drive (3rd picture), the closest teammate is Draymond, who’s still jogging the other way.

    Harden’s 2nd shot attempt against Barnes is shown up in replies @ 6 above. Feltbot’s feverish imagination aside, there’s no “aggressive trapping” there, either.

  16. I put up a comment starting to break down 1st-half possessions to show how Harden was guarded, but it’s stuck in moderation — probably due to the multiple image links I included. So I’ll skip the image links and cut to a summary:

    * At 8:36 of the 1st quarter, Harden gets a rebound and attempts to go coast-to-coast. Barnes picks up Harden in the backcourt and stays in front of him the entire way without any double-team help. When Barnes cuts off his drive, Harden takes a step-back jumper that misses.

    * Harden’s 2nd shot attempt against Barnes, at 5:50, is shown up in replies @ 6 above. Feltbot’s feverish imagination aside, there’s no “aggressive trapping” there, either.

    * In between, though, at around 7:07, Harden is isolated against Barnes on the wing. Here, you do see GS kind of zoning up behind Barnes, as Bogut steps out along the baseline. As soon as Bogut does that, Harden fires a bad pass toward the opposite corner that goes out of bounds.

    That same zone tactic was used multiple times when Klay was defending Harden on the wing — in one case, Ezeli came all the way over to double-team Harden. IMO, the key factor was the location on the floor rather than the defender: GS would bring the additional defender when Harden was on the wing, but not when he was in the middle of the floor.

    • FWIW, I did see one shining moment (at around 3:40 of the 2nd quarter) where there was a brief double-team on Harden that included Barnes. Unfortunately for Feltbot’s claims, it was after a Josh Smith screen, with Draymond switching onto Harden & then being joined by Barnes.

      After about a second, Draymond goes back to Smith, leaving Barnes alone on Harden.

      • I saw the same thing. Anyone can have a bad shooting game, so I cannot give all the credit to Barnes for Harden’s bad shooting. However, I did not see Harden beat Barnes badly with any dribble penetration either. I don’t understand why Feltbot discredited Barnes defense in game 3.

        • Around these parts, bashing Barnes is more a matter of ideological rigidity than basketball analysis.

          But you’re right, Barnes wasn’t doing anything terribly different from what Klay had done previously (and with amazing success during the regular season). It’s just that Harden had gotten used to Klay’s defense and found a rhythm; changing to Barnes disrupted that rhythm.

          So now the question is how quickly Harden can adjust. He’s a great and smart player, so it’s certainly possible.

    • Shrubs, not trees, much less a forest.

    • No one’s bashing Barnes. He did his part of the Adams D adjustment.

      Rox adjusted to Adams/Kerr zone trap with back cuts. Kerrs turn. Not Barnes. Not Green. Not Klay.

      • the barnes revisionists retain the prerogative to give their guy credit for defending randolph vs. Mem and now harden, when the team shifted both assignments and overall team defenses. partial credit in both instances was due, but it doesn’t make his individual defense directly comparable to d’mond’s on randolph or thompson’s on harden, because the team defense accommodated the assignment switch. in game three with harden shooting 3-16, with all the switching and relaying, barnes was defending harden’s shot on fewer than half of his attempts.

        whatever biases we might retain are irrelevant to what goes on in the games ; what the coaches see is another matter. it appeared that kerr didn’t particularly care for what he saw barnes doing in the first half of game four defensively, despite his providing most of the team’s early points. the player actually looked partially impaired on a fast break when he was filling the wing, jogging and watching curry all the way instead of forcing the defenders to cover him. curry never passed off and took the shot, just as the defense expected, and barnes was subbed out not long after.

  17. The Stephen Curry problem: looks like one very sore neck

    Thank God he looks OK. He could’ve easily broken his wrist or worse on that fall
    Feels like we should be down 30at the half instead of 10. Klay showed signs of snapping out of it second quarter. Lets see if someone can step up in Stephs absence

    • The Rockets can’t shoot any better. But they can shoot a lot worse :)

      This was really a victory for the Warriors, as Steph appears unscathed

      Chances of Rockets winning twice in Oracle?

      Priceless!

  18. Houston did what got them here in the first place, and what the Warriors continue to struggle to do—get the other guys going, especially on the perimeter, then come back to Harden. I really suspect McHale’s plan of trying to win the paint threw Harden off game 3.

    Curry should have gotten 6 points for his second half 3s—he was seeing two buckets. Curry has carried the team the whole post season, with not enough help, except for Green and his sheer determination. Klay did come alive a bit. It’s just painful to see him play without a scoring center.

    • Bob Myers went back to the locker room to see if Curry was OK. Why does this not inspire confidence? (See Rush, Brandon, etc.)