Iman Shumpert explains how the Cavs physically wear down Stephen Curry
The goal is to get as physical as possible with the back-to-back MVP
Ahead of Monday's NBA Finals rematch, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert discussed his team's strategy against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Shumpert told reporters that the Cavs try to wear Curry down over the course of the game by being as physical as possible with him, via cleveland.com's Joe Vardon:
"We just put a lot of pressure on him to physically take the punishment all game," Shumpert said. "We put a strong, athletic guy on him. When we guard him, guarding him up the floor, trying to get into his legs.
"Throughout the game if you consistently guard somebody that way at the end of the game, if they're last five minutes isn't as up to par, you feel like you did your job because you wore on him the whole game."
"You just gotta stay consistent with guys like that because they have the ball so much that no matter what you do they're going to get in a rhythm," Shumpert said. "You just gotta survive their runs they go on and hopefully you've done your job as far as getting in to him and applying pressure the whole game. You see the effects of that pressure in the last few minutes of the game."
A few thoughts:
- SB Nation's Mike Prada did a thorough breakdown of what the Cavaliers do to Curry. It's not just that they make him work for his offense; they also target him on the other end. Their entire game plan is geared toward getting the ball out of Curry's hands, taking him out of his comfort zone and tiring him out.
- Cleveland's approach is not exactly unique. Curry has seen every type of defense, and he's used to teams trying to bully him. The Cavs have just been more effective and disciplined when doing it. On Sunday, Golden State coach Steve Kerr rejected the notion that Cleveland plays Curry more physically than other teams, via the San Jose Mercury News' Anthony Slater: "No, no, everybody tries to play Steph physically, as they should. That's what I would do. Steph is so skilled, he's fast and tough to corral, so you have to do everything you can to contain him. They did a good job last game."
- It would be a mistake to take this as a sign that the Cavs have "solved" Curry. Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged that he wanted to "wear him down as much as possible," but also told reporters that Curry will "not very often" have a bad game. If Curry stays engaged, takes care of the ball and uses the Cavs' pressure against them, then the Warriors will have a good chance of ending their four-game losing streak against Cleveland.
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