Warriors have to invite challenge of Mavs' plan for Steph


The core of Jason Kidd's plan when his Dallas Mavericks square off with the Warriors on Wednesday night at Chase Center for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals could be a simple one that so many teams and coaches have tried to pull off in the past: Don't let Steph Curry beat you. 

Literally, anybody but Steph. 

That's the plan Kidd put in place the last time these two teams saw each other in the regular season, and it worked. As the Mavs blitzed and double-teamed Curry all fourth quarter on March 3 in Dallas, he didn't attempt one shot in the fourth quarter and the Warriors lost 122-113.

"That was probably the best game to watch in terms of playoff prep, even though Draymond wasn't there," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday to reporters. "Strategically there were some things that happened in that game that I think will repeat themselves in this series. We're anticipating that they'll blitz Steph and get the ball out of his hands.

"It's all part of playoff prep."

Curry ended the fourth quarter 11 weeks ago with 21 points, the same amount as Jordan Poole. Andrew Wiggins had 17 and Klay Thompson had 14. The Warriors trailed 99-91, and Kidd knew Golden State's best chance of coming back and eventually taking the lead would be Curry catching fire. He forced the ball out of Curry's hands and rookie Moses Moody was the only reason the Warriors kept it close. 


Moody entered for Thompson with 10 minutes left and Kerr stuck with the 19-year-old the rest of the way as he couldn't miss and gave the Warriors another element with his defense, length and hustle. Moody went 5-for-5 from the field, made all three of his 3-pointers and scored 13 points off the bench. 

Instead of forcing it, Curry wasn't afraid to pass out of double-teams and find wide-open teammates. Moody was the only one who came through. Warriors not named Moody scored nine points, shot 4-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from deep. 

Curry was the only Warrior to play the entire fourth quarter, and the greatest shooter the game has seen couldn't even attempt one.

He did have five assists, and his support system will have to take advantage of the Mavs' aggressiveness. 

"They were gonna make sure he wasn't gonna beat them, so we had some open looks," Kerr said. "Moses came in and went 5-for-5 and made three or four plays driving to the rim. So there were openings all over the court. That's the risk you run with blitz.

"On the other hand, Steph didn't get a shot the whole fourth quarter. I think as a staff, we have to think about that. So what you do is think about different ways to attack, different sets you might run to address the blitz."

To finish off the Memphis Grizzlies last round, Game 6 Klay made his heroic return, scoring 30 points and making eight 3-pointers. But before that, he was shooting 29.3 percent from long distance through the first five games of the semifinals. Poole made five 3-pointers on his way to scoring 31 points in Game 1 against the Grizzlies. He hit seven 3-pointers over the next five games, shooting 25 percent from deep in that span. Wiggins went 3-for-5 on 3-pointers in the series finale but shot 33.3 percent from there in the six games. 

The Warriors shot 34.3 percent (81-for-236) on 3-point attempts last round. The Mavs lead the playoffs with 15.5 made 3-pointers per game, right ahead of the Warriors' 14.3. Dallas also ranks right ahead of Golden State in 3-point percentage throughout the playoffs. The Mavs are shooting 38.5 percent from there, and the Warriors are at a 37.7 percent clip. 

Simultaneously, the Mavs are allowing the fewest points per game (101.9) out of all Western Conference teams, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks (101.3) and Miami Heat (98.3). 

RELATED: Kerr pinpoints what makes Kidd unique as coach and player

Kerr noted a key point, that Green wasn't there for the last game between the Warriors and Mavs, and the coach said that he "sees victory" when an aggressive Draymond shows up. The Get The Ball In Steph's Hands play always should be at the top of the list, but it's clear Kidd is going to do what he can to force it out. Kerr, on the other hand, has to find ways to beat the defense with the ball in Curry's hands, and make sure it gets back to him quickly if it is forced out. 


Whether it be star-level players like Thompson, Poole and Wggins, or key role players off the bench, Curry also is going to have to rely on his teammates and they're going to have to answer the call. The quicker they do, the sooner open lanes will be for a two-time NBA MVP. 

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