The latest edition of the TrueHoop newsletter addresses how to best attack the stars on both sides of the Western Conference Matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors. David Thorpe breaks down the different ways that the opponent can take advantage of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Damian Lillard. According to Thorpe, limiting Damian Lillard’s ability to get any look at the rim is key, as is guarding him every possible second.
Lillard is a devastating “logo shooter” who seems to be directly plugged into his home crowd when he makes those shots. On the road, they still serve to lift his team. He simply must be hounded wherever he is and forced to do something OTHER than take those deep shots. They’re not worth four points officially, but the fans’ reaction lifts the team up like they are. And as these statistics show, he’s more effective late in the clock and after multiple dribbles. Lillard is weaponized every second of every possession
As for Curry and Durant, Thorpe differentiates between what the opponent needs to do when Kevin Durant is on the floor, and when Kevin Durant is off the floor. If Durant is not playing, the opponent needs to keep the ball out of Stephen Curry’s hands while wearing him down. If Durant is playing, all bets are off: double-teaming Curry gives the Warriors the edge. Stopping Kevin Durant means pushing him out beyond 30 feet so he has to work harder to get to the basket, which will tire him out.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood, and Maurice Harkless are all long and nimble enough to take away easy catches for Durant and force him to play far away from the basket on many possessions.
Again, Thorpe emphasizes that energy will be a contributing factor to Durant’s performance, especially following his injury. It remains to be seen when Durant will return to the Warriors’ lineup: he is due to be reexamined on his calf strain later this week.