Kerr Builds the Blueprint for Brooklyn

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Updated: November 17, 2021
curry

The previous embarrassment of riches in the Bay was set to battle in Brooklyn for the first hyped early season matchup. Golden State came into the game with the best record in basketball yet most around the league have attributed that to their soft schedule and the long 8-game homestand they just completed. After burying the Bulls in a blowout, the question would be how they would deal with their first real test out East on the road. The first quarter was electric, and it was clear with the playoff-like intensity that everyone involved from the stars to both coaching staffs this one meant more than a single stat in the win or loss column. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, they simply looked exposed on their homecourt, getting blown out so badly Nash opted to keep KD and James on the bench for the entirety of the 4th quarter and let the time on the clock expire.

Often contenders keep some of their defensive schemes secret and hoard them for the postseason, but Kerr and the Warrior’s coaching staff were not playing possum. In fact, it looked as if they had a plan to build a blueprint on how best to attack this juggernaut of two of the best scorers of the modern era. When asked between quarters about stopping Durant, Kerr gave the nonchalant answer everyone does, that he’s essentially unguardable, but what happened on the floor told a different story. Kerr brought the box and 1, a triangle and 2, and threw every one of his defenders up into the body of the Slim Reaper. Wiggins, Iggy, Draymond, Looney, and Payton all were up into Durant space every single time he had the rock.

For the first half of basketball, it didn’t appear to have much effect as Kevin got to his spots as he has his entire career. At 7 foot and a high release jumper, he has always been able to get his shot off against any player who had the unfortunate task of drawing KD as their defensive assignment. But we saw back in the 2019 playoffs against the Clippers when Doc stuck the undersized Patrick Beverly on him, it bothered KD. Not so much with his numbers, but the amount of energy it took out Durant to score made him uncomfortable. By the 3rd quarter of tonight’s game, Durant’s legs looked spent, after he missed a handful of jumpers in a row, allowing the Warriors to blow open a 20 point lead with Curry on the bench with 4 fouls.

Durant has been quite open about casting shade on Steve Kerr and the Warrior’s organization, especially philosophically about how to win playoff games with their style of play. And frankly, I have been quite critical about Kerr’s commitment to playing Steph so heavily off ball and his rotations throughout the years. However, like all the greats in history, he has made tremendous growth and allowed himself to adjust over the offseason. He has adopted tricks and schemes for other top-tier coaches and now has the IQ level players in his rotation to execute them with force as we saw tonight.

One of the reasons Golden State was so open with their defensive attack specifically geared towards stopping Durant and Harden was that they would only have to face them in the postseason if they both ended up in the Finals. Curry and Kerr are masters at saying the publicly correct things to media about their legacy and about the KD era and what has followed. However, KD and the big 3 in Golden State all know that their legacies are interwoven and a chip in the post-KD-Warriors era will mean more than either of the two championships they acquired together. For many, KD’s chips are tainted since he’s never won without Steph, and Durant’s presence puts the entirety of the Warriors’ dynasty and its validity in question. If either of them can win the title this year, it could have serious implications for the narrative drawn around these two top 20 players in Curry and Durant.

Game-Break-Down

From what we saw today though, the matchup is a serious problem for Brooklyn’s bigs. Every single time Curry got the switch on Griffin or Aldridge, he abused them out on the perimeter, either splashing in their face from 30 or going to the basket with ease. Aldridge has been playing well after returning from retirement, but Nash opted not to play him for the first half, and when he entered the game the reason was quite transparent. The Nets were trying to switch everything, and Aldridge just continued to get picked on by all the athleticism the Warriors had on the floor.

The question of what Andrew Wiggins will be for the Warriors has been answered these last four games. It appears that Kerr has told him, the 2nd quarter is yours. It has always been their weakest quarter, usually because Curry only plays for 6 minutes or so during this period. But since the game against the KAT and the Twolves, Andrew Wiggins has looked born again. He is using his size and strength to bully people around the basket, and after the poster-jam he put on Towns’ head top, a lot of defenders are making business decisions and getting clear from the cameras when he gets on the runway. 

Brian Windhorst just yesterday implied that if the Warriors were going to make a move on the trade market it would certainty include the “Andrew Wiggins Contract.” Beat writer for the Warriors Nick Friedell quickly corrected him though pointing out that “Wiggins is pivotal to the Warriors’ success.” If he keeps playing like he has the last 4 games, with his two-way impact, he might even find his way into his 1st All-Star game considering the Warriors will probably have the best record going into break.

The Future

With these two franchises though, there is obviously an elephant in the room that alters the equation. Two hall of famers were missing from tonight’s matchup in Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. However, on the same Hoop Collective podcast, Cassidy Hubbarth who covers the Nets in Brooklyn was asked about the two players and she simply put it, that Klay is coming back soon, and Kyrie is “out of sight out of mind.” New York has made it clear that they are not changing their mandates on vaccinations and the Nets have even been giving out free cheap seat tickets for people getting their shots. If these two franchises do matchup in the Finals, most likely Kyrie Irving will be watching from home while Klay Thompson will be in the starting lineup.

Curry 29 mins – 37 points – 12 of 19 (63 FG%) – 9 of 14 from 3 – 7 Rebs – 7 Assists – 2 Steals – 1 BLK – 2 TOs

Durant 32 mins – 19 points – 6 of 19 (33 FG%) – 5 Rebounds – 3 Assists – 0 Steals – 0 Blocks – 2 TOs

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