How to beat the Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are 11-0, their best start in franchise history. They are only 1 of a handful of teams to start the season with a perfect 10-0 start and look unstoppable, HOWEVER, like all great teams, no one is unbeatable. In fact, there are many things oppositions can do in order to make it difficult for the Warriors and here is my recipe to beat them:
1. YOU MUST PLAY SLOW!
This is perhaps the most important aspect when facing the Warriors. Golden State absolutely love to run. They love to run in transition off a make or a miss, they love to run in the open floor and thrive on transition points and easy buckets. The shot clock does not matter to them, they play a free flowing game and are comfortable with taking shots early in the clock as long as it is a high percentage one, which it normally is. They are able to do this due to their excellent defensive system that forces oppositions to take bad shots or turn the ball over. Your team may have weapons, big weapons, who also love to run, play quick and go end to end however no team in the NBA besides the Oklahoma City Thunder can run with the Warriors, so be warned, do not try and outrun the Warriors, no matter how good you think you are at playing at a fast pace. The Cleveland Cavaliers had success against the Warriors last season in the first 3 Games of the NBA Finals when they completely slowed the game down, took the pace and spark out of the game and executed offensively. The Cavaliers slowed the game right down, to almost walking pace at times, used the entire shot clock and disabled the Warriors ability to play in transition, get stops, and run. The Warriors took control of the Series when they went small, reduced Andrew Bogut’s minutes and injected pace, movement and agility back into their line-up. This aided them and allowed them to play their natural game as the Cavaliers didn’t have enough weapons, healthy bodies and correct personnel to match them in this area.
2. USE YOUR TIMEOUTS WISELY AND EFFECTIVELY
A timeout is a very powerful and underrated weapon in the NBA that is often not utilized correctly Gongfu Tea Cup at the right times. The Warriors are a team that feeds off their crowd’s energy and more importantly, are a pure rhythm team. Due to the fact they have a lot of excellent shooters, shooters are usually the most effective when they are in rhythm, feeling good and the shots feel comfortable and nice when leaving their hands. It is up to Head Coaches and players to recognize the best time to disrupt this rhythm and dynamic energy and take the sting out of the game. If used correctly, timeouts can be one of the most effective tools to disrupt their flow and get yours back. Milk the entire timeout and make their shooters and runners sit, perhaps go a little cold and force them to re-establish that rhythm that forced you to get take a timeout all over again from the beginning.
3. IF YOU’RE BEATING THE WARRIORS, MAKE SURE THEY CAN FEEL IT.
In stating the above point, timeouts can also be used very effectively when your ball club is up against the Warriors. Golden State are specialists when erasing leads and scoring in bunches. The Warriors seem like they are never panicking but that’s because teams don’t allow that to set in. No one in the NBA likes playing from behind, so if you extend the time you’re in front and you emphasize it, it may seem more than what it is. For example, if you are correctly playing at a very slow pace and you go up by 10 against the Warriors, it may be wise to take a timeout before they are able to make their run. Basketball is a game of runs, however, if you let the Warriors sit when they’re down 10 or 12, it makes a hell of a difference to them than if you let them get within 5 or 6 and then take the timeout. Additionally, after that timeout, if you then extend that lead and go up by 14 or 16, you should take another timeout. This will make the Warriors think, and already playing against a slow pace, that 12 or 15 point lead may all of a sudden seem like 18 or 20. If you’re ahead of the Warriors you should make them feel it as long as possible and grind it out for as long as possible to make the lead seem greater or harder to capture because they aren’t in that position often. If you allow them to cut your lead quickly, you won’t have a lead much longer.
4. EXPOSE THEIR FRONT COURT
For as great of a team that the Warriors are, they don’t have a dominant force down low. Their big man, normally Andrew Bogut or Fetus Ezeli are not dominant or particularly talented, however, they are always effective when playing in a great defensive and offensive system. A player like Andrew Bogut is very valuable to the Warriors for his IQ, passing and defense, but in saying that, he’s in no way, shape or form, one of the better big men in the league. The Warriors are excellent on the perimeter which hides the big weakness they have inside. This is an area that the Warriors can definitely be exposed and they need to be if you have a chance of winning against them. You must dominate down low and it doesn’t mean just scoring, but also, dominating the boards, blocking shots and getting second chance opportunities. If you have a valuable big man down low that can score in bunches and can put their front court under enormous pressure, you need to use him. You need to go through him more often than not, nearly every possession. This is why the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and the new look San Antonio Spurs match up well against the Warriors, because their front courts are more dominant and more talented than they are. This is key. Domination down low and high percentage shots around the basket is nothing but a good thing.
5. DISRUPT THEIR ROTATION
Again, the Warriors are a rhythm team who thrive on knowing when and where they will be called upon. They have a set rotation and all their players are familiar with the players they are playing with during their designated rotation. It is up to opposition coaches to disrupt this and try and hurt their rhythm. If some of their players are on the floor with players they are not normally used to being on the floor with, logically, the chemistry will not be as advanced or fluent as usual. This could be an area where coaches can exploit, causing the Warriors to focus on something they are not used to and force them to work out things on the floor that they are not familiar with influenced by their personnel. For example, if Klay Thompson picks up an early foul, get in down low in the post in a matchup where he may feel uncomfortable and could possibly pick up a second foul. Go at him and try and pick up that second foul which would force him to sit and force someone like Leandro Barbosa to come in and play with the starters, something he may not be used to.
6. EXPOSE THE SECOND UNIT
The Warriors have an excellent second unit that move the ball, work cohesively and try and generate good shots. Their second unit of Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Mo Speights, Fetus Ezeli and Andre Iguodala are all great when working in the Warriors overall system, but besides Iguodala, the others starters would find it hard pressed to start at any other franchise. They are great together but individually they aren’t as talented as other second units around the league. This doesn’t matter, because they are just as, if not more effective, but this does not mean that they cannot be exposed for the overall talents they are individually. This isn’t a knock on their second unit, however, I believe teams and coaches can really expose one on one matchups and use the Warriors second unit to gain a significant advantage. Identify which players are weak in certain areas, and try and put your team in the best possible position to expose those weaknesses.
7. BE PHYSICAL WITH STEPH CURRY
It may seem pretty straight forward but players must be overly physical with Steph Curry. Pushing the boundaries slightly may prove to be very effective when dealing with Steph. I’m not saying that a player should go out to hurt Curry because that couldn’t be further from the truth, but picking up hard fouls on him early wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Injecting a player you don’t mind picking up some early fouls may be put into the game to be very physical with Steph. This may plant a seed in the back of Steph’s mind, and really wear him down. You must remember that it has definitely effected his game in the past, most recently in the NBA Finals with Matthew Dellavedova and a few matches ago with Kentavious Caldwell Pope, who Steph admitted was one of the toughest opponents he’s faced in recent memory. You must also remember Steph struggled physically in this league for a long time, so putting an overly physical body on him may prove to be quite a handy idea.
8. IF STEPH GETS HIS POINTS, MAKE SURE NO ONE ELSE HURTS YOU
When he’s rolling, Steph Curry is next to un-guardable, it’s as simple as that. He can go off on any given night and the reality is this may happen when you face him. As hard as he is to stop, his 40 or 50 points alone are not what’s going to beat you, it’s the other contributors that will. If you allow Steph to drop 40, you cannot allow Klay Thompson to also add 20, Draymond Green to have 15, Iggy to have 17 and Harrison Barnes to have 16. All these additional points add up and along with Steph’s big night, you have next to no chance of beating the Warriors. If Steph goes off, don’t let anyone else or you’ll pay, you’ll pay big time. If Steph gets his, try and minimize everyone else’s impact. It’s harder said than done but its key that you’re not being beat from multiple areas against Golden State.
9. MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BUT STEPH BEAT YOU!
Try and get the ball out of Steph’s hands. It’s a difficult task and he usually will make the correct pass out of double teams however it’s better to let Harrison Barnes have an open 3 than Steph to have it. The Cavaliers did it effectively at times in last year’s Finals but couldn’t sustain it due to lack of personnel and just not enough healthy bodies to maintain that level of trapping. If you can get the ball out of Steph’s hands and force someone else to create and try and beat you, it may be in your best interest. Again, this may make sense in theory but could prove very difficult when trying to make up for leaving someone open. Nevertheless, could be something to think about.
10. MAKE STEPH CURRY WORK
Steph Curry plays within an excellent defensive system. Despite the Western Conference possessing some of the most elite and gifted point guards in the league, Steph is rarely made to work like other guards are. This is very important, YOU MUST MAKE STEPH CURRY WORK AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU MUST MAKE HIM ACCOUNTABLE. Steph is rarely worried about his opponent, especially going down the other end and scoring on him, but this must change when facing Steph. He has ultimate freedom to do whatever he pleases offensively due to his talents but giving him seconds thoughts about taking a risky shot knowing his opponent may be running in transition, may change the dynamic of the game a little bit. When facing Steph Curry, you must make him work on the defensive end, this is absolutely a major component in the overall goal of beating the Warriors. You have to wear him out of the defensive end and it will logically affect his game offensively. Steph must be worried that his opponent may put up big numbers against him. You have to take him into the post, put him in high pick and roll situations, expose mismatches on him, make him run and make him defend at the highest possible level for as long as possible to produce positive results. Imagine Steph had to chase his opponents all game long like opponents have to do when facing him? It will eventually take a toll on his body and his energy conservation for the offensive end may be effected and produce positive results for your ball club. If Steph’s legs go from constantly running, so may his jump shot, or maybe, some of those shots he normally makes don’t necessarily go in like usual. Moreover, if Steph needs a breather from being physically exhausted or needs to sit to regain energy, that’s the Warriors best player being off the floor which is only a bonus for you.
The Warriors are an excellent ball club and will again have a very deep run into the Playoffs. However, they are not invincible, and can be stopped when taking the correct approach when facing them.