Stephen Curry was double-teamed seven times as many times as Kevin Durant in the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals, Draymond Green said. In his opinion, Durant called it “100 percent wrong.”
Kurt Herring is right about the differences: Former Warriors teammates spoke out about their differences last year. They probably won’t fight over such trivial things. Coulter added: “If you’d rather re-litigate who deserves the most championship honors four years ago, try it.”
A few points to start with:
- Curry is an all-time great.
- He wasn’t as good in the NBA Finals as other all-time greats.
- His struggles in the playoffs are overstated.
- LeBron James deserves the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. If the Warriors deserve this award, it’s Curry — not Andre Iguodala, who really got it. If Curry wins, some silly discussions about his legacy will be avoided.
- Durant was a well-deserved Finals MVP in Golden State’s other two championships (2017 and 2018).
Specific to the hand: In these series, the Cavaliers double-teamed Curry much more often than Durant.
Unfortunately, I don’t have enough money to count double teams in those finals. I can’t rate the accuracy of Green’s exact numbers (often a factor of seven). But there’s enough anecdotal evidence, including my memory of the series, to say that Green’s overall point is correct.
In 2017, Eric Aprile reviewed every rim made by Durant and Curry to determine how often each star created looks for the other. Apricot’s conclusion:
The simplest and most comprehensive answer is to have two of them create space on the floor for both sides, thereby reducing the pressure on them to create offense every game.
The first thing that might surprise you is that Curry has put up far more points for Durant than Durant does for Curry (almost four times as many!).It makes sense since Curry is more of a facilitator and Durant is more of a finisher, but I’m still amazed by the huge difference
Curry created a lot of points directly for Durant in the 2017 Finals, averaging around eight points per game through a combination of gravity, passing and screens. He’s still an underrated player and could have been the Finals MVP.
Durant created a lot of points through individual excellence, averaging around 21.6 points per game. So it’s not fair to say he’s being carried by Curry or the system. The video shows him taking a number of controversial, difficult shots. He’s a well-deserved Finals MVP, especially considering his defensive contributions.
It’s not just about Curry being double-teamed, it’s a key part of the story.
Kyoko made a video showing Durant’s shot with the help of Curry. Notice how often Curry has multiple defenders on him:
Then-Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue also followed Discussed his game plan against Curry:
He’s too dangerous, probably the most dangerous player in the league, and he can be hot.
We still blitzed him with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant on the court in 2017 and 2018. So, that’s how dangerous I think he is.
The Cavs didn’t take that approach because they doubted Durant. A lot of it is based on where and how each player got the ball. It’s easier and more effective to double-team a short Curry in the pick-and-roll than a taller Durant.
But whatever the exact reason, it happened: The Cavaliers double-teamed Curry far more often than Durant.
So, why didn’t Durant say that?
Well, he’s in a never-ending battle to convince everyone that he’s not taking shortcuts for the championship. He didn’t want to be seen riding in a Warriors tuxedo. (He didn’t. He really led Golden State to Finals success, especially in 2017.) There may still be people who admire Curry, and Golden State fans embrace him much more deeply.
Once again, Durant deserves his two Finals MVPs. Even after understanding how much Curry’s gravity helped him, Durant still did a lot to tear Cleveland apart. Green noticed this too.
But when it comes to double-teaming in the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals, Curry saw a lot more than Durant.