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 San Antonio Spurs did something few teams have figured out how to do en route to an 87-79 win over the Golden State Warriors: They shut Curry down. How? By having all five players guard him and contesting as many of his shots as they could.
Spurs contested 11 of Steph Curry's shots last night. Wild. And Steph made just 28.2 percent of his uncontested shots. Even more wild.
— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) March 20, 2016
Curry took 18 shots against the Spurs, and the Spurs contested 11 of them. By our calculation, he made only two shots when someone was on him: one on a driving layup and the other a rainbow 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of LaMarcus Aldridge. Curry shot poorly on his seven uncontested shots as well, making just 28.2 percent of them—but some of those shots were forced 3-pointers, a result of frustration due to the Spurs' suffocating defense.
Danny Green even blocked a Curry 3-pointer—for the first time this season. Think about that. Up to that point, Curry had taken 729 3-pointers, and no one had gotten a hand on a single one. The Spurs switched on every single pick & roll the Warriors ran with Curry, ensuring no one would lose the deadly shooter by having to fight through a screen. Green caused Curry to shoot 1-for-5 while guarding him. Tony Parker shut him out, forcing Curry to misfire 0-for-7. Even big man Aldridge did a remarkable job of staying in front of the lightning quick point guard when it was his turn to step out and guard him.
To me, the Spurs-Warriors takeaway
Game 1: fastest pace the Spurs played all season.
Game 2: slowest pace the Warriors played all season.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 20, 2016
As a result, the Warriors were forced to play at the slowest pace they've played at 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? The Spurs certainly hope so.
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