“When We Used To Play, We Used A Wedge And Just Trap” | NBA Legend Gary Payton Offers Recipe For Stopping Steph Curry

(Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

When you’re Steph Curry there isn’t a defense that you haven’t seen in your career. His incomparable shooting ability and ridiculous range causes teams to guard Curry in a variety of ways. The defense picks him up right past halfcourt. They double- and even triple-team him, you’ve seen the box-and-one.

Teams have always tried to switch bigger, stronger players on Chef in an effort to wear him down throughout the game. Despite all that, Curry continues to find success and post great numbers. Let’s call the last six minutes of Game 1, in which Curry was held scoreless, an aberration. But let’s not act like the Celtics didn’t employ a defense that frustrated Curry down the stretch.

 

How To Throw Salt In The Chef’s Game

NBA legend and Hall of Famer Gary Payton, considered one of the greatest defensive guards of all time, offers his formula for stopping Curry.

“The Glove,” who happens to be one of just three guards to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year (along with Michael Jordan and reigning DPOY Marcus Smart) believes denying Curry the ball would also work.

 Payton recently stopped by “The Old Man and the Three” podcast to chop it up.

“Steph, you have to put your body on him. … It makes the other people who have the basketball, if they see Steph is really, really getting hounded, what do they do? They go away from him because they don’t want to turn the basketball over. They don’t want to give it to him, and they try to do things they can’t do.”

 Payton continued:

“When we used to play we used a hedge and just trap. Once we trap the basketball and get the ball out of his hand, what my job was is deny him getting the basketball. Make it hard for him to get the basketball. I’ll deny him and let them four other players play.”

 

 

Payton may be on to something, but in this age where defenders are constantly switching assignments, it’s highly unlikely that Celtics head coach Ime Udoka would implement such a strategy.

He trusts his perimeter players and big men to be able to make it tough on Curry no matter who’s guarding him. While Curry went for 34 points on 12-of-25 (7-14 threes) shooting in the NBA Finals Game 1 loss, 21 of those points came in the opening quarter, including 6-for-8 from three.

Steph’s offensive explosions in the playoffs can be attributed to Steve Kerr strategically resting his star guard during the season. The Celtics defense, however, adjusted its coverage on Curry for the rest of the game and seemed to wear him down. 

Despite the collapse, Curry’s minutes are still being watched closely by Kerr, however, who needs to have his major weapon available for this entire series.

Curry’s Lobbies To Play More Minutes: Confidence Still High

Following the Game 1 loss, questions about Kerr sitting Curry too long at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters were deafening. In both instances, the Warriors gave away double-digit leads. They ultimately blew a 92-80 lead heading into the final stanza and lost 120-108.

In his postgame presser Curry let it be known he’d like to play more minutes, but he also says be trusts the game plan of the coaching staff.

 

 

More Split Action Will Help Beat Celtics Defense

The Celtics are a tremendous defensive team with size and athleticism. Early on in Game 1, they were playing a drop coverage, allowing walk-into threes by Curry. That strategy went out the window after he torched the nets for six bombs in the opening quarter.

Boston became much more physical and “handsy,” in the second quarter. One way to thwart that is having Draymond play right at or below the free throw line. That allows the likes of Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins to play off of split action. That will negate some of the Celtics’ size advantage and create more open looks at the rim and on the wings.

Kerr will need to pull out all the stops and the Warriors must play with a Game 7 desperation to avoid going down 0-2 headed to Beantown.