We have a show of our own, folks.
After the Lakers stunned the Warriors to steal home field advantage in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Warriors responded with an emphatic 27-point drubbing in Game 2.
While the Warriors received contributions from a number of players to the win, Stephen Curry’s fingerprints were once again all over the game. He finished with just 20 points but blasted an efficient 7-for-12 from the field. He also recorded his first double-double of the playoffs by dishing out 12 assists, eight of which came in the first half.
There was one assist from Curry that particularly stood out, for reasons we’ll get to.
You know what that means – to the movie room!
MORE: Darvin Ham credits defending Draymond Green for Anthony Davis’ quiet game 2
How Stephen Curry shredded the Lakers without scoring
Austin Reaves rebounds a missed 3-pointer from Donte DiVincenzo.
LeBron James was the Laker denying DiVIncenzo’s shot, so he quickly takes off across the court hoping to either get a quick basket in the transition or cause a mismatch by forcing someone other than Andrew Wiggins to take him to pick up.
Reaves throws a full-court pass to James as he notices Curry running towards him, but Curry intercepts it.
Curry jogs the ball up and is immediately hit by three defenders: Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Wenyen Gabriel.
Reaves steps up to guard Curry, but as soon as he does, Curry drives off like he’s driving. That forces Gabriel to slide over to prevent the Warriors star from rolling into the basket for a layup.
Curry now has the attention of two defenders – actually, never mind, here comes a third in Schröder.
Schroder joins the mix, likely to switch Reaves from Curry and bet on someone not as fast and dodgy. (Only Jarred Vanderbilt has guarded Curry more than Schroder in two games in the series. Reaves has spent most of his time chasing Klay Thompson.)
The problem? With Reaves and Schroder on Curry and Gabriel lurking in the paint, no one is defending Thompson, who is wide open on the left wing.
This is a layup for arguably the second greatest shooter in NBA history:
Why it matters
There’s a tale as old as time: Curry breaks [insert team here] with its incredible gravity.
Curry finished Game 2 with just 20 points, and yet the Warriors outplayed the Lakers by 24 points in his 29 minutes on the court and posted a rate of 137.5 points per 100 possessions. (For context, a goal that efficient shouldn’t be possible.) He dished out 12 assists, but he helped create so many more opportunities for the Warriors that the pressure he brings means they’re not on the Box score can be seen shooting sets teams up.
The first basket of the game for the Warriors was the result of two defenders pouncing on Curry.
Not one, not two, but three of Draymond Green’s five field goals came from Curry pulling his defender or being doubled.
When a third defender showed up to prevent Green from getting a layup or dunk, Green picked the Lakers apart with his patented short-roll passes.
Curry had more hands on the ball in Game 2 than he did in Game 1, but the Lakers were still afraid he might open up if he ran around without the ball.
Notice how two defenders pursue him here, freeing Wiggins for a three-pointer:
Curry is a problem for any team, but the Warriors put him and themselves on the road to success in Game 2 by putting JaMychal Green in the starting lineup for Kevon Looney. Looney is sick was part of the reason for the move, but having a different shooter — Green has made 430 3s with a 36.8 percent clip in his career, compared to 10 with a 16.9 percent clip for Looney — has opened up the court in a big way.
Running more of the offense through Curry also made a difference. The Lakers followed him well in Game 1 but put more pick and rolls on him in Game 2 to capitalize on all that attention.
Even at 35, Curry is one of the top pick-and-roll scorers in the league. According to NBA.com, only nine players averaged more points per game in these games during the regular season. The crazy part? He averaged a 1.14 point per pick and roll possession, which placed him in the 95th percentile for efficiency.
These are the types of possessions the Lakers tried to avoid by letting Anthony Davis rise as high as he did:
It was the Warriors who had a lot to think about after Davis dominated Game 1. With the way Curry controlled Game 2 without scoring much, it’s Darvin Ham and his coaching staff’s turn to return to the drawing board.