Stephen Curry pick-and-rolls and the genius of Steve Kerr: Warriors adjustments that spell trouble for Lakers
After losing Game 1 against the Lakers on Tuesday, the Warriors stomped them 127-100 in Thursday's Game 2. The outcome was never in doubt in the second half.
What were the big adjustments that head coach Steve Kerr made to change his team's fortunes so drastically?
MORE: Klay Thompson's 3-point barrage vs. Lakers extends his own playoff record
Three Warriors adjustments that spell trouble for Lakers
1. JaMychal Green starts over Kevon Looney
Inserting JaMychal Green into the starting lineup in place of Kevon Looney was the easiest adjustment to spot. It was made in part because Looney was feeling ill (although he still played). That gave the Warriors more shooting and spacing, which in turn helped their offensive output jump from 112 points in Game 1 to 127 in Game 2.
Green did his job, hitting 3-of-6 3-pointers and dropping 15 points in under 13 minutes. The Lakers left him mostly wide open, which is the same strategy that they have been using on Looney. But unlike Looney, Green was willing and able to punish that strategy.
2. Way more Stephen Curry pick-and-rolls
The Lakers had a ton of success in Game 1 preventing Curry from catching the ball by top-locking him. As I (and many others) wrote after Game 1, the natural adjustment for the Warriors coming into Game 2 would be to let Curry run more pick-and-rolls. The reason not to do that in Game 1 was that it tires him out much more, but it would allow him to control the ball more.
The coaching staff chose to make that sacrifice, putting the ball in Curry's hands from start to finish.
The big Warriors G2 adjustment was running more Curry pick-and-roll. Here's his first 6 minute stint. They were getting great looks out of it. pic.twitter.com/HG1yIcrhVp— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) May 5, 2023
The Lakers had a ton of trouble stopping that high pick-and-roll from Curry. From the start of the game, they didn't seem to have their coverages down, allowing Draymond Green to roll unimpeded to the basket. Curry also got good (for him) looks from 3 and was able to collapse the Lakers' defense with his drives.
While Curry only had 20 points, that doesn't begin to describe the impact that he had in those pick-and-rolls. He was more of a facilitator in Game 2, spraying it out to shooters or giving it to his rollers. That's pretty clearly evidenced by his 12 assists. He had many more plays that led to assists two or three passes down the line from the advantage that he created.
MORE: How Stephen Curry shredded the Lakers without scoring
3. Steve Kerr's clever ways to beat the Lakers defense
Kerr is a great X's and O's coach, and he came into Game 2 with a couple of tricks up his sleeve to beat the Lakers' strategy of top-locking Curry and Klay Thompson.
This was my favorite after timeout play of the game, a beautiful design with multiple layers to punish the Lakers' gameplan:
This was such a beautiful play design from Steve Kerr to break the Lakers' defensive scheme.— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) May 5, 2023
🔊 on: pic.twitter.com/PvHZh7bvuR
Kerr had some other nice drawn-up plays during stoppages, including this misdirection picked up by fantastic Warriors writer Joe Viray, who also wrote an excellent column on Kerr's adjustments:
Warriors with trickery and deception on this BLOB.— Joe Viray (@JoeVirayNBA) May 5, 2023
Steph signals for '22' which is either for a Wiggins curl and cut inside or a Klay three. LeBron expects any of those options – but doesn't expect the pass to Moody cutting baseline for the dunk.
One hell of a pump fake lmao pic.twitter.com/bIcUzfIe0K
Kerr put on a masterclass in Game 2, adding more evidence as to why he is considered such a top coach.