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NBA Playoffs 2018: Are Warriors Relying on Kevin Durant?



With all the Golden State Warriors' super-team firepower, their dominance goes largely back to a defensive puzzle: do you double your team, or at least shield your defense with Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? You can not focus on both of them, and they'll both set you alight when you're alone with a defender. But the difference is: Curry will fire you from the deep, while Durant mostly does his work in a bow. And if you think defensively, it's pretty simple: giving up two is better than giving up three.

For this reason, most of the pelicans have played Durant directly, mostly with Jrue Holiday, while keeping in touch with the shooters around the 3-point line and swarming Curry on every pick-and-roll. Holiday is a great defender, and he'll win more than his share of possessions, but in the long run, he can not make a real bump in Durant. He is just too short. Durant can shoot at him, or just over any other isolated defender, whenever he wants. Durant went for 38 in Golden State 1

18-92 Game 4 victory on Sunday to take a 3-1 series lead, and he did it almost exclusively from the middle class.

If you are the pelicans or any other team, take your chance with this 2-point heavy chart chart, especially as many of them have been contested. In theory, if you make your own recordings, you can at least challenge the warriors no matter how many 2s they make. When Curry and the company start raining 3s, they make funeral arrangements.

Surprisingly, the Warriors do not bombard much in this postseason. Yes, Curry missed the first six games, but the goal would be that they would only be seventh in the league throughout the season. Of the eight surviving teams, only the pelicans in the playoffs make less than 3 per game than the Warriors – who make only 10 per game and also have the third worst 3-point percentage in the playoffs on Sunday with 33.6 percent. That number declined in Game 4, as the Warriors went 11 out of 33 from downtown for a 33 percent mark.

Well, that does not matter to the Pelicans, who only made four 3-pointers in Game 4 for 26 tries. The key to keeping up with a 2-point Warriors attack is again countering with your own triples to narrow the gap. This is something that the Rockets, who made more 3-points than any other team in history this season with 1,256 this season, can clearly do so when we look at a possible final of the Houston-Golden State Western Conference.

Steve Kerr and the Warriors are not as often in midfield as many teams. Kerr focuses on ball and player moves and quality shots that result from this movement, no matter where they come from. Still, Durant might, perhaps, just isolate a tiny bit of a poisonous fruit. It's tempting to go for it, but at what cost? If Curry has long seasons without getting any shots, can the Warriors really work with maximum efficiency against a team like Houston, who does the mathematical game the warriors normally have against them?

As we said in the headline, it splits hair. It's hard to say that if you have a matchup advantage, you've got one of the best goalscorers in history. To be fair, not all Warriors were in Game 4. They moved the ball well, they were playing with urgency and Kerr was occupying JaVale McGee to start the game in favor of Curry's killing, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Durant and Draymond Green a masterpiece. Here is a small perspective on the basketball murder committed in Game 4:

So, yes, the Warriors were great in Game 4 and stayed for much of this postseason. And, yes, Durant is an all-timer who can clearly carry a championship team. But this Warriors team is not the same Warriors team that once bombarded teams from the gym. At least in these playoffs, they are one of the most effective 3-point teams. And again, for the season as a whole, they were seventh in the league – not bad, but not great – so it's not a new development.

Put simply, mathematics is something that can be done against this team. They just do not do as many threes as they used to. New Orleans may not be able to expose that, but somewhere on the road another team could do it.


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