The Boston Celtics vs. the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night was a possible finals preview and many would be happy to see these two squads square off after the show they put on. Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry were simply amazing; Irving finishing with 37 and Curry had 49 points. Here are a few things to take note of.
Kyrie Irving’s Wizardry
Irving was impossible to guard, his handles as always were so pure but at times it felt magical. First, he drove on Draymond Green and just stopped right on a dime crossed the ball over in between his legs, which opened up a lane to the rim for him. Then he absolutely froze Curry with a slight shimmy before knocking down the baseline jumper. At the end of the game, Kyrie drove past Klay Thompson who was still trailing him to try to get a block and that is when Kyrie extended the ball just out of the reach before laying the ball up. Finally, he broke the Warriors full-court pressure and as he was coming off a screen at full speed hit Green with an In-n-Out dribble and attacked Durant at the rim.
Call it magic, witchcraft, or wizardry but Kyrie Irving showed out again on Saturday night and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Kevin Durant sets up the perfect backdoor
The Warriors are the best off-ball cutting team in the NBA. They consistently score off slips, cuts, and backdoors. The main reason why is their shooting ability always has defenders on the edge to make sure they don’t give up an open three. Durant took advantage of Jaylen Brown’s eagerness to take away that shot. He took a step in that direction and Brown bit on it, as soon as he did that Durant cut right to the rim and Green hit him with a well-placed bounce pass for a nice flush.
The key to a good back cut is the setup if the offensive player can get the defender to over-commit to their first few steps the backdoor is wide open.
Aggressive Jaylen Brown
Brown is a really important piece for the Celtics with Gordon Hayward out for the year. Last night, he was a beast in the first quarter scoring 14 points, attacking the paint and knocking down open shots. He scored the first points in the game when he got Green to jump at his pump fake and drove baseline for the jam. Next, Durant has his hands down when Brown caught the ball at the three-point line, he didn’t hesitate to pull up for the shot. He then drove from the wing when he ripped through on Nick Young’s closeout and finished with a beautiful reverse. Late in the game, he drove baseline against Andre Iguodala and finished with a nice up and under to give the Celtics the lead.
Brown finished with 20 points; he didn’t find his rhythm after the first quarter. If he can find a way to sustain that aggressiveness throughout the game, he could make the Celtics even more dangerous than they already are.
Warriors Seamless Curry Switches
A big part of the NBA game is about seeking out mismatches and teams are always trying to attack Curry on the defensive end. In the Celtics game, the Warriors did a great job of recognizing when Curry was switched onto a big man and quickly switched him off of them. Like when he switched onto Al Horford in a pick-and-roll, almost instantly Zaza Pachulia took Horford, Thompson took Aron Baynes, and Curry sprinted to Kyrie in the corner. Later in the game, he switched onto Marcus Morris and immediately passed him off to Green. Late in the game, he ended up on Horford again and the Warriors were able to quickly switch him out of that matchup with Durant taking Horford.
Their seamless switches to get Curry off of the bigs is just another of great the Warriors’ defense is at helping each other and anticipating the next rotation.
The Celtics-Warriors game was a lot of fun and would certainly make for entertaining finals should both team get there in June.
- The Warriors Defense is Tough to Crack
- For All-Star talk listen to The Jump Ball Podcast with Seerat Sohi (Ep 63)