The Warriors are so good that it’s disorienting. I’m trained to do autopsies, and it’s much harder to explain why life occurs. I believe it has something to do with Mitochondrial DNA, not hedging hard on screens, a stork, and an unselfish offense. Tonight, it specifically had something to do with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson going a combined 11-17 on threes.

The Warriors dominated the (also, oddly good) Los Angeles Clippers from the jump, seizing on LAC’s poor transition defense with threes galore. The Dubs are a funny team because their transition game rarely translates into layups or dunks. They lack end-to-end finishers, so whatever speed they conjure fans out to the corners for open threes. When it’s working, the ball blurs around the confused opposition, like a border collie racing ovals around sleepy sheep. This might not be the most athletic group, but the ball is faster than even Eric Bledsoe.

Another quirk to the GSW offensive attack is how lopsided the three pointer distribution is. If a Warriors player hits a three, there’s a 73% chance that Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson shot it. The two combined have made more threes than such teams as the Bulls, Bucks, Celtics, Grizzlies and Wolves. Though the outside barrage is lopsided, it hasn’t hurt Golden State much. As of today, they’re fourth in team three pointer percentage (39.1%).

I consider this a quirk because open space is theoretically crucial for success on threes. Teams that shoot the three well tend to spread the floor with four deep shooters, thus creating breathing room for drives and treys. The strategy can make average shooters look good, and good shooters look great. Just look at how the New York Knicks’ spread pick and roll attack turned Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony into a 43% distance shooters this season.

The Warriors rarely have four deep threats on the floor at once, but the good news is that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson don’t have to be open–necessarily. Both players release their shots so quickly that you could consider the motion violent. Obviously, it’s ideal to be open. It’s just not a necessity for these two.

David Lee does help carve out what little daylight the backcourt sees. He’s a point forward, especially adept at bouncing the ball out to the perimeter like a swinging pinball paddle. He might not be a stretch-four, but he finds open space rather than creating it with the threat of a three pointer. It also helps that Lee is good enough at long-twos to be covered out to that spot

Your Shaky Blair Witch Camera Interview Question of Steph Curry 

Good shooting probably happens when you reach a zen-like state of pulling without thinking too much. I screw all that up for Stephen Curry by frequently asking questions regarding which spots he’s shooting best from. In this case, an observation from Beckley Mason prompted me to ask whether Steph is most comfortable shooting from the left side of the floor.

And that, my friends, is a major general tension between sportswriter and athlete. I want to know the why of something that has origins in the physical, subconscious, and reflexive. A lot of thought and strategy goes into succeeding at this sport, but elements of execution can sometimes just be reduced to “doing.” Why was Curry shooting well? Because Curry shot well.

2 Responses

  1. Daniel S.

    Steph’s also becoming automatic from about the elbow, just making a token jab at the inside, then stepping back and releasing all in essentially one motion.