Warriors

Nuggets explain how they slowed down Steph for three quarters

Warriors
Steph Curry

Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets know the best way to beat the Warriors -- or have a chance to do so -- is to make life hard on Steph Curry.

They did just that Tuesday night, holding Curry to 23 points on 6-of-16 shooting in the Nuggets' 89-86 win at Chase Center.

Defending Curry was a group effort for the Nuggets, part of a plan that Malone installed the morning before the game, and one they hope to duplicate Thursday night when the teams meet again in Denver.

"It’s never one person with a great player, and obviously, Steph is one of the greatest to ever do it," Malone told reporters after the win. "Yes, you give Austin [Rivers], Facu [Campazzo], Davon [Reed], different guys credit, Will [Barton], but it’s five guys really defending as one.

"We went over some things at shoot-around today, some things that we normally don’t do, but as I told our players, when you’re guarding against a great team and a great player, you have to alter your defense. You can’t play him with the regular defense that we use most nights."

Said Barton of the Nuggets' plan: "I won’t try to dig too deep because we play these guys in a couple more days, but I’ll tell you the main thing was not to give him any open looks. We all know how dangerous a shooter Steph is, so we can’t give him any easy ones when we know he’s going to make a couple hard ones, difficult ones anyway. Just try to limit any touches he could get and be there on the catch, and make it as tough as possible for him."

 

The Nuggets hounded Curry from the opening tip, as he didn't score his first basket until he hit a layup with 2:10 left in the first half. The NBA's all-time 3-point leader finished the first half 0 of 5 from the 3-point line and was a minus-17.

You only can hold down Curry for so long, though. The Warriors star caught fire in the final stanza, splashing four triples to cut into Denver's lead and giving Golden State a chance to tie the score on the final possession of regulation.

But Malone's connective defense held tough for one final play, denying Curry a look and forcing Andre Iguodala to take the final shot, which missed.

"We zoned the 3-point line knowing they needed a three," Malone said of the Nuggets' plan on the final play. "We were able to zone the outside, keep them inside the paint, took away Steph coming to the ball, which is a plan. Iguodala broke loose, found a crack in that, and got up almost a desperation three at the buzzer. But our guys executed the defensive coverage on that play very well."

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While the Nuggets' defense deserves credit for its showing Tuesday, it was nothing Curry hasn't seen before, and the two-time NBA MVP knows he just has to be better at finding ways to attack Malone's defense.

"No, it's just consistent," Curry said when asked if he was seeing new looks from defenses this year. "There's a couple different variations of stuff, but where it gets -- like tonight was different layers of help defense that were always ready to pull over or close driving lanes and cut off half of the court, so certain teams can be a little bit more aggressive on that front than others, depending on personnel.

"I have to be able to make reads. I had four turnovers in the first quarter getting myself into bad situations, and that definitely killed a lot of momentum and took me out of rhythm, too. So, that's on me."

Curry will get another chance to solve Malone's anti-Steph scheme when the Warriors visit the Nuggets on Thursday night at Ball Arena.

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