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How To Defend Golden State's 3-Point Shot Explained

The Warriors have been making shots, but they could be easily countered by the Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs' perimeter defense has suffered against the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have combined for 10-15 (66%) shooting from beyond the arc. The main nemesis of the Spurs hasn't been the defense, but the personnel trying to carry out the scheme.

There's two main factors contributing to the Warriors' open 3-point makes and it's a mental aspect of basketball more than physical at this point.

Defensive Rebound Position

The possessions where the Warriors got offensive rebounds had the Spurs' perimeter defenders in horrible possession. In one instance, Danny Green decides to crash the board without boxing out anyone and Golden State gets the offensive rebound. That pass leads to a wide open Klay Thompson on the perimeter.

The Spurs need to concentrate on boxing out Golden State to get the defensive rebound over trying to use their athleticism for it. If Green were to have boxed out Thompson when the ball was in the air, he wouldn't have been open for a 3-point shot and the shot would've been taken by another Warrior, and it would've been a more difficult shot.

Pressure on Curry/Thompson

The Spurs are in position to defend their best shooters, but there's no pressure to the defense. Is it really a "lucky" shot when every Spurs defender is blocking the lane but giving them a wide look at the basket with no use of the hands?

Don't take my word for it, take it from this guy at the 46 second mark.

There's no pressure from the Spurs or use of the hands to block the passing angle and the view to the basket. All the defenders are keeping their hands down. That's a good defense against a pass first player or a player who drives most of the time because of an inconsistent shot.
What has been killing the Spurs isn't the 2-point shots, but the ones from beyond arc. With the Spurs players being soft on the perimeter, that leaves a perfect opportunity for the Warriors to set up a pick and pop against San Antonio. This has been a horrible play for the Spurs since the big man involved in this for the Spurs is too far back protecting the paint (Shaquille O'Neal style help defense).

If the Spurs were to be more aggressive, they'd be closer to Curry or Thompson on a pick set over trying to catch up to them. Here's an example. Picture Stephen Curry at the top of the key and any defender of the Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, or Kawhi Leonard) right in front of the 3-point line waiting for the shooter to come to them to shoot a 3. That's the ideal scenario, but the Warriors aren't giving them that. Instead, you're having a Golden State big man set a pick on Leonard while Curry is going to make his room. This would likely result in moving screens because of the big man usually not knowing where the guard is going to go, but this is a set play. With the Spur already a step behind on the play, now Curry can make his move before the pick with the pick coming at the 3 point line. If the defender goes under the screen, the shooter has a wide open 3-point shot while he's going into the shot. If the defender goes over the screen, the shooter can run baseline and pop a shot (just like Stephen Curry did in the first half with Tiago Splitter being way behind to give Curry an uncomfortable shot).

Now play the same scenario but with the defender getting on either Curry or Thompson from arm's length (if you're thinking Kawhi Leonard, that's a lot of arm length on defense). The screen would likely have to come farther out from the 3-point line, but the defender would be right next to the shooter. If the shooter elevates, the defender would be in better position to contest or block the shot if he's taller and longer. This situation would also likely have Golden State be called for a moving screen since the ball handler would want to leave as quick as possible and that might mean the pick setter won't have time to set his feet.

There's also been instances as were mentioned of the Spurs just leaving shooters with a clear view of the basket. That's one huge aspect from the defensive years that's missing and that was mainly from Bruce Bowen. San Antonio can match Golden State's 2-point shots with ease. The first half is an example of that. If San Antonio forced Golden State to 2-point shots over 3-pointers, the Spurs may have had a lead with Curry getting in foul trouble. A simple hand to obstruct the view of the basket and the other hand wherever the ball is lower the percentage of the shot and not make Stephen Curry look like a basketball god on the court. Some fans call this tactic the "Steve Nash-Amare Stoudemire defense". In 2005, the Spurs forced the Phoenix Suns to beat them with dunks and shots inside the 3-point line over getting shots from beyond the arc. This may not be the same scenario, but what was the Suns' biggest threat was neutralized and that's the Warriors' biggest weapon.



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