In the wake of Game 1 between the Lakers and Warriors, plenty of praise has been rightfully lauded on Jarred Vanderbilt for his performance defensively against Steph Curry. And while it was a tremendous performance, it’s always a team effort to slow down one of the greatest players ever.
One of the players that also played a big role against Curry on Tuesday and will continue to do so moving forward is Dennis Schröder. After Vanderbilt, Dennis spent the next most time on Curry, according to NBA’s matchup data.
Following the game, Dennis spoke about the team’s performance defensively and the mindset he and Vanderbilt have against Curry from game to game.
“They still took, I think, 50 threes,” Schröder said. “Our gameplan was to get them off the 3-point line. I mean, we highly contested them but in the first half, they had 12 (made) threes already. I’m glad that we won this game. (Vanderbilt) did a great job, me, we just tried to make it hard as possible for (Steph Curry). We just tried to be urgent there.”
According to NBA’s tracking data, of the Warriors' 53 3-pointers, 17 of them had a defender within four feet of the shooter. Golden State made just five of those attempts, a percentage of 29%. On the remaining 36 attempts, the Warriors made 16, a clip of 44.4%.
When it comes specifically to Curry, who is the hub of almost everything offensively for Golden State, Schröder held him to 2-6 shooting overall in his time defending him, per NBA’s matchup data. He hit just one of his four 3-point attempts against Schröder and turned the ball over twice as well.
Defending Curry is an exhausting effort, even when it’s multiple people tasked to do so as the Lakers had. As Dennis spoke about after the game, no matter how exhaustive it may be, it’s necessary to victory.
“I mean, whatever it takes to win,” Schröder said. “But it’s really, really hard. Steph is probably the best conditioning-wise in sports because he’s running around for 23 seconds and still taking a shot. So, just to be by him when he catches it makes it really, really tough. Might have to get an IV tonight.”
The final sentence came with a bit of a smile and laugh from Schröder. The challenge with Steph doesn’t end after one game, either. The key is slowing him down enough in a 7-game series to come away with four wins. It’s a task many teams have failed at throughout the years.
The Lakers did just enough to pick up one win, but the job’s not close to done.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.